Wednesday, September 13, 2006

UK Patent Office - "Rules of Public Engagement"

Gareth Huw-Davies of the Sunday Times did an interesting story on the UK Patent Office this weekend, highlighting the significance of the public face of the Agency. Increasingly, intellectual property policy making has sought to engage the public in efforts to regain the legitimacy of intellectual property rights among the consumers of such products.

Ron Marchant, chief executive of the UK Patent Office, opened the third annual THINK kit awards this summer. The THINK kit awards, sponsored by the Patent Office, aim to promote innovation in school students. The awards are part of the contemporary public profile of the UK Patent Office, and its emphasis on the promotion of "intellectual property."

This is particularly significant in the context of the current climate of review and consultation in the UK, with publication of the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, led by Andrew Gowers, expected later this year. It is anticipated that the document will emphasise the interaction between intellectual property laws and economic growth, particularly in the light of one of the key themes of the new Office of Science and Innovation - "levering the economic value from creativity." The Office of Science and Innovation, which includes the Patent Office and is within the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), is a significant branding of this public face of innovation in the UK and the policy initiatives of the Patent Office.

The Sunday Times described the new role of the Patent Office as one which is "regularly on the road" at workshops and advising firms. Marchant was reported in the Sunday Times as saying, "When I started as a patent examiner we basically opened a file, examined the patent, closed the file and it went off to a warehouse. We really didn't feel we had much impact. Now we have a very active engagement with our customers. We talk all the time about how we can help them."

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