Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Review of UK Intellectual Property Rights

While the Patenting Lives conference was underway last Friday, the UK Chancellor announced as part of the Pre-Budget Report 2005 an Independent Review of the UK's intellectual property framework. The 12-month investigation and Review is to be led by Andrew Gowers, former editor of the Financial Times.

Fundamentally, the announcement is motivated by the government's commitment to achieving an efficient and effective copyright system in the context of the "digital age." This commitment was made as part of the Labour Party manifesto, which stated that "We will modernise copyright and other forms of protection of intellectual property rights so that they are appropriate for the digital age. We will use our presidency of the EU to look at how to ensure content creators can protect their innovations in a digital age. Piracy is a growing threat and we will work with industry to protect against it."

While clearly concentrating on copyright in a digital environment, the announcement makes clear an ongoing emphasis on intellectual property rights as an "incentive" - however, that incentive is expressed not only in terms of innovation but also as an incentive to "invest." This provokes the question, has the investment in these industries become a social value, a "creative" output, in and of itself?

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