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New intellectual property support for SMEs

The package forms part of the Government’s Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth, which has been published today. It sets out plans to boost growth through substantial investment in research and innovation across the UK.

 Key actions announced today by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) include:

  •  A new online business advisor training tool that will give advisors the skills and information they need to help businesses protect the value of their intellectual property.
  • An online register of advisors to help businesses find the right advisor for them quickly and easily.
  • Consulting businesses, business advisors and IP specialists about how lower cost IP legal and commercial advice can be provided.
  • Offering free intellectual property audits to businesses through routes such as the Technology Strategy Board.
  • Enhancing existing schemes such as mediation to provide a more efficient dispute resolution service that can prevent potentially costly legal cases.

 Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said:

 “The intellectual property of small and medium sized businesses is vital to their future economic growth and success. Their innovative ideas and creations can be worth billions of pounds so it is essential that we provide them with the support they need to protect and enforce their rights.

 “The package of measures outlined today will allow the Intellectual Property Office to build even stronger links with businesses, giving them the confidence to trade both in the UK and abroad.”

 Measures the IPO has already taken to support SMEs following the Hargreaves Review include:

  •  Announcing that a small claims process for cases under £5,000 will be introduced at the Patents County Court for cases involving copyright, trade marks and designs;
  • Launching Ipsum, an online patent service that could save UK business nearly £100,000 per year. It removes the cost to businesses of requesting patent documents, instead they will now be available for free online;
  • Re-running the Fast Forward Competition which encourages Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) to work together with businesses to share research, innovation and intellectual property (IP). £760,000 is available for winning bids to invest in research and knowledge transfer projects that have the potential to create new companies or services; and
  • Supporting the Technology Strategy Board to develop an IP strategy for the new technology and innovation centres.

 The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth recommended that the Intellectual Property Office should produce plans to improve the accessibility of the IP system to smaller companies. The Government accepted these recommendations and is now in the process of implementing them.

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