What is it all about?

The Bill (here) is weighted heavily towards change in the UK design legal framework but patents and freedom of information both get a mention too.  The Bill aims to simplify and improve design and patent protection to help businesses, to clarify the IP legal framework and to ensure that the international IP system supports UK businesses effectively.

According to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie), the UK Government recognise the importance that intellectual property rights play in the economy and have introduced the Bill to clear obstacles that stand in the way of investment in IP-intensive businesses and innovation.

The following are key elements of the Bill:

– Enable the Government to give effect to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court
– Introduction of a new criminal offence for deliberate and intentional copying of registered designs in the course of business
– Expansion of the Patent Opinions Service of the IPO to include design opinions and to give power to the comptroller to revoke a patent after issuing an opinion

Also proposed by the Bill are:

– Provision for the United Kingdom to join the Hague international designs registration system
– Introduction of a small claims track into the Patents County Court for copyright, trade mark and unregistered designs cases, for claims of up to £10,000
– Enable the Intellectual Property Office to share information on unpublished patent applications with its counterparts in other patent offices, on a strictly confidential basis
– Introduce a new exemption into the Freedom of Information Act to protect continuing programmes of research intended for future publication by public authorities
– Change in ownership of unregistered designs commissioned by a 3rd party – the designer will be the initial owner of the design, not the commissioner
– Requirement for the Secretary of State to report annually on the activities of the Intellectual Property Office and how it has supported innovation and growth

Where are we at?

We await the Report Stage which is yet to be scheduled. The 1st and 2nd readings of the Bill took place in the House of Lords on 9th and 22nd May 2013, respectively. Line by line examination of the Bill (the Committee Stage) took place on 11th, 13th and 18th June 2013. A third reading will follow the Report Stage and then the Bill will progress to the House of Commons before Royal Assent.

Isabel Unwin (Ansons)