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News - 4 February 2007

Small firms to get I.P. health checks

Intellectual Property audits are to be offered to small businesses in the UK

Up to 40 small firms, many of whom have never before sought to protect their valuable intellectual property, will benefit from a 3-day 'IP audit' being pilotted from March by the Patent Office in collaboration with 4 Regional Development Agencies.

The pilots form part of a new Innovation Support Strategy published today, designed by the Patent Office to help UK business recognise, protect and maximise the value of their Intellectual Property assets to compete in the global economy. The Strategy implements the first of the recommendations of the recent Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, published last December.

Malcolm Wicks said: "Protecting and promoting innovation has never been more important for firms big and small, at home and abroad. Andrew Gowers' Review underlined the importance of intellectual property in a world where the UK's economic competitiveness is increasingly driven by knowledge-based industries, innovation and creativity.

"Every business uses aspects of intellectual property, the name it trades under, process it uses or the products or services it provides. The IP audit pilots will help up to 40 small firms in the manufacturing, service, high tech, creative and other sectors identify what intellectual property exists and offer advice to protect, use and maximise its value. It is just one of a number of new initiatives designed to help businesses raise their IP game in the face of growing global competition."

Other initiatives outlined in the Innovation Support Strategy include:

  • Web based guidance to help UK firms operating in foreign markets. Companies working in fast growth economies such as China, India and Brazil will benefit from simple and concise guidance on obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights to help them avoid elephant traps, overcome legal hurdles and guide them to reliable professional help. Working in partnership with UKTI, this Patent Office initiative builds on work the Government has already done in transforming our world class innovation and creativity into the products and services that the world wants to buy.
  • Trials of 'patent mapping'. By analysing patent information the Patent Office will be able to identify trends in the market for particular products, services or research and development strategies. Businesses using this service will be able to use this information to plan company investment and highlight areas of potential collaboration.

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