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Reviewed 8 December 2011

New intellectual property support for SMEs

New measures announced by the Government today will help small and medium sized firms to protect their intellectual property and grow their business.

The package forms part of the Government's Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth External Link, 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 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.

Note to editors

  • The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is within the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) and is responsible for the national framework of Intellectual Property rights, comprising patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.
  • Its role is to help manage an IP system that encourages innovation and creativity, balances the needs of consumers and users, promotes strong and competitive markets and is the foundation of the knowledge-based economy.
  • It operates in a national and an international environment and its work is governed by national and international law, including various international treaties relating to Intellectual Property (IP) to which the United Kingdom is a party.
  • Ipsum is available on the IPO website.
  • The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, and the Government's response can be found on the IPO website.
  • Details of the 2011 Fast Forward winners can be found on the IPO website. For details on how to enter the competition visit the IPO website. Winners will be announced in early 2012. The 2012 Fast Forward Competition is funded and administered by the Intellectual Property Office. The entries will be judged by a panel of intellectual property experts with backgrounds in intellectual property and innovation, research and higher education.
  • For further information, please contact Dan Palmer on 0207 215 5303 or e-mail communications.

Date of release: 8 December 2011