Wednesday 30 October 2013

More tools: but are they right for the job?

"Businesses to get greater Intellectual Property support" is the title of today's media release from the UK government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. According to its text:
"The potential for businesses to succeed and grow received a big boost today with the launch of new support tools to help small firms identify, protect and grow their intellectual property (IP) assets. The Intellectual Property Office launched ‘IP for Business’ - a suite of five business tools which make sure firms can tap into up-to-date guidance to help manage their IP. It will also help firms get more relevant advice from their accountants and other business advisers.

The tools respond to the challenge of making sure businesses can generate value from ideas against a backdrop of poor understanding of IP rights and how they can exploit them. At the centre of the toolkit is IP Equip - a new, free interactive online training tool that helps businesses and their advisors to identify assets which may be protected by IP rights and think through the strategy for protecting them. ...
Roger Burt, President of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, said:
“Small businesses and their advisors, if they understand it at all, generally see IP as a low priority. To engage their interest, you have to talk to them about its business benefits, not about the intricacies of intellectual property, particularly patent law. This new material does just that. It is a valuable addition to the tools already available.”
President of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys Catherine Wolfe sees the new package as having a clear advantage over some of the existing materials:
“By focusing on the potential commercial value of IP assets these new tools make it clear to business people and their advisers that it pays to get expert help at an early stage. Having an effective IP strategy can be crucially important to business.”
Other products being launched today include
  • IP Equip app which is available to download free from the Apple store iTunes and Android App store. This will give access to IP information on the go. 
  • IP Basics which is a range of new guides for business owners, explaining how to maximise the potential of IP. 
  • IP Health Check which allows business owners to assess their own business for free with a tailored report to identify and value their IP. 
  • IP Master Class which is a popular accredited course which enables advisors to advance their knowledge".
While no-one can accuse the IPO of not trying, it would be good to know how effective these tools are: how far have they been test-driven and how widely applicable are they?  Readers' experiences and evaluations would be particular welcome -- especially if they influence a decision whether to seek, or to advance, investment funding.


  1. From my personal experience there are a lot of people out there (who may have not yet set up a business) who need IP advice, particularly for patents. They have ideas and enthusiasm, but are sorely lacking IP knowledge to help them make a lot of very early important decisions. I've not yet looked at the new tools, but I hope they help. I'm afraid I don't trust the patent profession to offer completely objective advice in this area because they gain if the person decides to proceed to file for IP rights. And so I believe the UK IPO does have an important role to play.

  2. I think if we introduced a new right protecting apps it would deal with a lot of the enquiries I get from inventors who wonder whether their new idea is patentable.