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Better protection for UK businesses with new IP Act

19 May 2014

UK businesses will be able to better protect their intellectual property rights in the UK and abroad, with the new Intellectual Property Act receiving Royal Assent (14 May 2014).

A key part of the Intellectual Property Act is the creation of new powers for the UK to implement the Unified Patent Court Agreement. This is a central part of introducing a single patent across almost all EU countries which could lead to savings of up to £40 million per year for UK businesses.

The Intellectual Property Act also provides new protections for designers, as well as removing red tape and some of the uncertainties for businesses when protecting their designs. It will also introduce a number of online services to help businesses better manage their intellectual property.

Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger said: ‘Continued investment in intellectual property is vital to all businesses, as it contributes £16 billion to the UK economy each year. It is essential that we continue to work hard to create the right environment for them to flourish so we can benefit from their creative designs, inventions and ideas.

‘I am confident that this Act will further strengthen our world-class IP system – from research to market – and to help businesses of all sizes continue to thrive.’

Key policies to be implemented include providing new protections for pre-publication research to ensure the UK’s universities and the research sector remains a world-leader; the introduction of a criminal sanction for intentional copying of registered designs - this will deter those who knowingly copy UK registered designs and will provide greater protection for our hugely important design sector. In 2009, UK businesses invested over £15 billion in designs. The Act seeks to protect and develop this important industry; and measures to help businesses assess the strength of their IP case before going through formal and costly legal proceedings, with the creation of a design opinions service.

The expansion of the existing patent opinions service to give businesses involved in potential patent litigation an impartial view on the strength of their case on a much wider range of issues; an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act to better protect pre-publication research. As a result researchers can more easily validate and analyse their work before putting it into the public domain; and allowing the UK Intellectual Property Office to share information on unpublished patent applications with other national patent offices, which will help clear backlogs internationally, will also be implemented.

It is expected that the new measures will come into force from October 2014, with all measures implemented by late 2015.

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