Sunday, 5 February 2017

Creative Industries Federation: Creative Industries and the Business of IP





















Jane Lambert

The Creative Industries Federation describes itself as "the national membership organisation bringing together all of the UK’s arts, creative industries and cultural education to provide an authoritative and united voice in a way never done before." I had previously attended two of its events:  a roadshow in Leeds on 1 June 2015 (see The Creative Industries Road Show comes to Leeds 3 June 2015 Terpsichore) and a Brexit impact meeting n Manchester on 28 July 2016.

On 2 Feb 2017, the Federation held an event called "Creative Industries and the Business of IP". The announcement on the CIF's website promised:
"The Federation and the Alliance for Intellectual Property are convening this highly practical discussion on intellectual property that will address the main policy issues for the creative industries and help to demystify IP. This will include keynote speakers as well as two practical break-out sessions that will explain what you as a creator and/or owner of IP, can do to protect your rights and how you can unlock the value in your IP to grow your business. You will also get an update on the challenges and opportunities for our sector in relation to Brexit."
There were some interesting speakers:
Attendees included entrepreneurs, business owners, managers, accountants, solicitors, patent and trade mark attorneys and representatives of central and local governments, trade and professional associations, colleges and universities.

After a welcome from Penny Macbeth and introductory remarks from John Kampfner and Eddy Leviten there were short presentations by Alex Connock, William Bush and Sally Britton. Alex showed us examples of videos that had been made in Greater Manchester and spoke of the importance of the creative sector to the North West. Bill took up that theme and emphasized the importance of IP to the economy. Sally outlined some of the likely consequences for IP of the UK's departure from the EU.

We then separated into two groups. One left for another room to attend a session called Protecting your IP. That group was addressed by Alison Statham, Gavin Terry and Iain Spinks-Gillen. Those who attended that session were promised:
"a practical step by step guide to to assist creators, SMEs and anyone involved in the creation, distribution or ownership of IP in knowing where their content or products are being traded illicitly and to give some advice on how to deal with the problem."
The rest of us stayed for Valuing your IP:
"an easy to understand and practical session on determining how to value intellectual property so that it can be used positively to maximise growth opportunities such as licensing, funding, creative collaborations, responding to tenders etc."
Nick Konoupias spoke about his company's services and, in particular, about IP audits and how he carries them out.  Tony Pluckrose gave a quick overview of intellectual property and the different types of intellectual property rights that are available.  Kiki Anadu discussed the difficulties of valuing entertainment content having regard to changing demographics, technology and tastes. Rebecca Clayton introduced us to two valuation techniques - one based on income where the "intellectual property" was generating revenue and the other based on cost where it was not.

Both groups reassembled for a talk by Marianne Grant on the Get it Right from a Genuine Site campaign. That campaign sets out to educate the public in general, and suspected file sharers in particular, on the availability of licensed as opposed to pirated material. Marianne made the most memorable observation of the day when she referred to Sebastian Barry's remark that he had spent 50 years on planning his novel Days Without End. An extreme example, she conceded, but a perfect illustration of her point that "intellectual property" takes time and effort to create and should, therefore, be respected.

The meeting finished just after 18:15 and was followed by a cocktail party which offered an opportunity to meet the speakers and other attendees informally.

Having spent most of my career on helping businesses and individuals in the North West protect and exploit their investment in branding, design, technology and creative works and literature I am delighted that the Federation and Alliance have staged that event. I congratulate both organizations and thank them for allowing me to attend.  I made some useful contacts and refreshed my knowledge of IP audits, valuation and current efforts to suppress counterfeiting and piracy. Overall, it was a successful event.

Yet that event could have been so much better. Opportunities were missed to explain to an audience (many of whom had only the sketchiest knowledge of the topic)
Speaking to attendees over drinks, I found a lot of confusion over basic concepts and some worrying misapprehensions.

I think there are three reasons for those misapprehensions.  The first is that every speaker used the term intellectual property to refer to two different things:
  • the intellectual assets that are protected by patents, copyrights, trade marks and so on, that is to say the investment in branding, design, technology and works or art and literature; and
  • the legal protection itself, that is to say patents, copyrights, trade marks et cetera.
That was particularly true of Alex when he spoke of the "intellectual property" (sic) created by children's TV programme makers around Manchester and Marianne when she spoke of the effort that goes into creating "intellectual property."  I make no criticism of the speakers.  The distinction between intellectual assets and intellectual property is one that is well understood by IP specialists but not by the public at large.  Even the IPO refers to "intellectual property assets" instead of "intellectual assets" in its educational output.

Secondly, it was not made clear that primary responsibility for enforcing IP lies with rights holders and not the public. It came as a surprise to many to learn that most IP infringements are not offences and that prosecuting authorities had limited and shrinking budgets to tackle the few infringements that are crimes. Many had never heard of the Patents Court, Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, Chancery Division or Small Claims Track. Few had any idea of how to bring an action in those courts, the available remedies or likely costs. Fewer still knew about IP insurance, collecting societies or threats actions.

It came as another unwelcome surprise to learn that patents. trade marks and registered designs can be revoked or invalidated by the courts or Intellectual Property Office after grant.  It was still more alarming to learn that the first thing that a properly resourced and well-advised defendant would do would be to challenge the registration or title whether by counterclaim or otherwise.  Several were shocked to learn about threats actions.  They were amazed that I had found at least as many businesses that had been ruined by owning too much intellectual property in my career as those that had been lost out through owning too little.

It is perhaps unfortunate that there was no speaker from the Intellectual Property Office, Business and IP Centre, Intellectual Property Bar Association, Intellectual Property Lawyers Association, Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, Chartered Institute of Trade Mark AttorneysLicensing Executive Society, Manchester University Law School or any of the universities. Attendees would have left the event with a better understanding of IP.