Replace UK Patent Office And Expand Its Mandate, IP Experts Say In Consultation 21/07/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The United Kingdom Patent Office should be replaced by an institution with the same power and responsibility that it has today but with an extra duty to also serve the public interest, a group of intellectual property experts has proposed. The proposal was made to UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown in a major national IP consultation referred to as the Gowers Review. Submissions to the review process have not been made public by the UK government. The proposed new statutory body, the Office of Intellectual Property, with the suggested acronym OfIP, would cover all kinds of IP, including copyright and patents, and would have to report annually to the British Parliament on its activity, said John Howkins, director of the Creative Economy Forum, which put forward the proposal. The forum is a group of international IP experts – business, academics, non-governmental organisation representatives – interested in the creative economy. “Government would have to account for the public interest instead of a narrow business focus as now,” Howkins said. The Creative Economy Forum this week announced a report entitled, “Who owns the law?” based on its submission, and highlighted the proposal for the new office in a media release. The report will soon be available at: http://www.adelphicharter.org/, Howkins said. Howkins said the OfIP would put its work into more context and not only report on the number of patents it has granted, how quickly it has granted these patents and other bureaucratic issues. Members of the public would be “deeply involved,” Howkins said, as they would be consulted before reporting to Parliament. Howkins said he is not aware of any other countries having taken the same steps. One example of how this would work in practice would be that the OfIP would report to the Parliament on what should be patented, which it currently does not do, he said. This could include issues such as whether software or genetic resources should be patented. The Creative Economy Forum also suggests a new independent body to give advice on intellectual property, replacing the current Intellectual Property Advisory Committee. It would have its own chair and secretariat and draw members from the public, the report said. The idea was submitted to the UK Treasury’s Gowers Review of intellectual property, which Howkins said is a one-time review announced by Brown in late 2005 to look at the future of IP policy in a UK context. The deadline for submissions to the review was 21 April 2006. The large amount of responses is currently being reviewed and a report will be published during the autumn of 2006, according to the Treasury website. Andrew Gowers, who is leading the project and his small secretariat of civil service officials will report to the chancellor, the secretary of state for trade and industry and the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, it said. The consultation has been “very comprehensive” and covers issues such as the UK’s role in IP within the European Commission and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and within developing issues such as those outlined in a proposal for a WIPO development agenda, Howkins said. He said the consultation had been in discussion for about a year and is a reflection of the government having recognised that there are problems with the current IP framework in the United Kingdom. He said that the problem in the United Kingdom is not the number of patents granted, as is an issue in the United States, but rather the balance between rights holders and the public. New Office Would Follow Now-Completed Adelphi Charter The OfIP would follow the principles of Adelphi Charter on Creativity, Innovation and Intellectual Property, which was launched by The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce last year (IPW, IP Policy, 19 October 2005). The Adelphi Charter calls upon governments and the international community to rectify what it says is an imbalance in the current IP system with the rights holders holding too much power over the public interest. “Laws regulating intellectual property must serve as means of achieving creative, social and economic ends and not as ends in themselves,” the charter states. Howkins was director of the charter, whose commission has been closed down. It was always intended to continue for a limited time, and it has successfully fulfilled it mandate, Howkins said. The OfIP would also be based on the model of industry regulators such as the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, Howkins said. The “Who owns the law” report was supported by a grant by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. Howkins is a co-author of the 2001 book, “Creative economy: How people make money from ideas.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "Replace UK Patent Office And Expand Its Mandate, IP Experts Say In Consultation" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.