Does HMG have a Policy for IP in the Northern Powerhouse?

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Source. Wikipedia

Jane Lambert

You have to dig deep in the Northern Powerhouse Strategy to find signs of an IP policy. It is very fragmented and rudimentary but a policy does exist. Just as well considering the proposed £235 million investment in the Sir Henry Royce Materials Institute, the £38 million in the National Graphene Institute, the £20 million in the National Ageing and Innovation Centre and the £78 million in the Factory.

IP is mentioned expressly only twice in the Northern Powerhouse Strategy. At the start of the chapter on enterprise and innovation, it is noted that the North is considerably below the UK average for the number of patents per capita - some 42 per million compared to London and the Home Counties 120. At the end of the chapter, there is the following announcement:

"The government will, therefore, pilot Intellectual Property Office representatives in key locations, starting with pilots in the Northern Powerhouse, to stimulate effective intellectual property commercialisation and to provide advice which catalyses local growth. This will ensure that intellectual property is fully integrated within the local business support landscape and that people in all areas can access the support and information they need to build innovative businesses."

I mentioned the recruitment of the first IPO representative in Implementing the Industrial Strategy: IPO seeks new Business Support Policy Adviser 25 Jan 2017. He or she should have been recruited by now and given a desk in the Business Growth Hub's offices by now but I have not been able to find any news about the appointment on either the IPO or Growth Hub websites.

More tangible signs of a policy is the rollout of Business and IP Centres in Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield which are funded by the Arts Council and supported by the Department for Communities and the Intellectual Property Office and by the IPO's presence at business events throughout the North.

An intellectual property right is essentially a right to bring a lawsuit, whether for encroaching on a monopoly such as a patent or right in a registered design or doing an act that is restricted to the owner of the IP right as in copyright. Such rights are enforced ultimately through proceedings in the civil courts. The Patents Court and Intellectual Property Enterprise Court are national courts for the resolution of disputes over patents, registered and registered Community designs, semiconductor topographies and plant breeders' rights whose judges are able and willing to sit in the North should the parties so desire for the purpose of saving time or costs (see para 1.5 of the Patents Court Guide and para 4 of the IPEC Guide) and the hearing centres in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Preston have jurisdiction under CPR 63.13 (c) and para 16.2 of the Part 63 Practice Direction have jurisdiction to hear other IP cases.

The government's IP policy for the region needs to be joined up and more prominent if there is to be private investment on any kind of scale in science, technology and the creative industries, but at least a start has been made.

Anyone who wants to discuss this article should call me on +44 (0)20 7494 5252 or message me through my contact form.  For more materials on IP and the Northern Powerhouse, visit my Northern Powerhouse resources page.