"The Government today launched a call for evidence on how the UK intellectual property system can better support our globally successful design industry.Yesterday this blogger attended a presentation, "Better by Design: towards European Design Policy", which was promoted by the Associate Parliamentary Design & Innovation Group (APDIG). There were some very pleasant and well-chaired talks, followed by a well-managed question-and-answer session. The overall impression received was that people who talk about design, who discuss and analyse its policy, who argue that it should be appreciated and understood in the public private and public sectors and integrated into the educational curriculum, are a good deal happier and less stressed than the designers he comes across in a rather different world in which no-one talks about policy or flies off for chummy meetings in charming locations which are conducive to sharing thought, a sadder world in which some people create designs and try to commercialise them while others rip them off.
At an event hosted by the Design Council, Baroness Wilcox urged the UK’s design community to gather information and data on what makes our design industry tick and what Government can do to support innovation and growth. [As if the design community doesn't already have enough to do ... and they will be disheartened by the fact that in other areas of IP -- of which the most obvious is the extended term of copyright protection for sound recordings -- the government appears to fly in the face of the evidence it so greatly prizes]
The lack of evidence available on this innovative sector was highlighted by Professor Ian Hargreaves in his review of Intellectual Property and Growth. In its response, the Government committed to gaining a better understanding of whether the design rights system in the UK is geared to the needs of business. [If it seriously wants to gain a better understanding, it only has to tune in to ACID -- an effective mouthpiece for the concerns of designers and their businesses. Or does the taint of 'lobbynomics' bar any representative group from having its views, and its information, accepted?]
Design is important to the UK economy, with an estimated £33 billion invested in design and architectural services in 2008. But there are questions about whether the design industry is properly supported by the Intellectual Property system. [But there has never been any suggestion that the design industry has been properly supported by the design system for the same old reasons -- (i) design rights are too numerous and complex for most people to understand, (ii) most small businesses can't afford the financial and emotional cost of dealing with infringers in court and (iii) unlike most other countries in the EU, we don't have a law of unfair competition which enables smaller businesses to enjoy a measure of protection that does not depend on paying to register rights in advance and then finding that they're too narrow or enmeshed in legal technicalities that make it difficult even to predict the outcome of a dispute]
To help answer these questions, and properly target and inform policy change, the Government has today issued a 'call for evidence' in relation to the design sector and launched a supporting online questionnaire/survey aimed at business [whether through haste, negligence or poor eyesight, this blogger couldn't find a link to the supporting online questionnaire/survey. Can anyone oblige, please?].
[Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said ...]
... Baroness Wilcox announced the publication of the first phase of research into the use of design rights in the UK. The research shows that the most intensive spenders on design in the UK are business services, manufacturing and construction sectors. Relative to other countries in Europe the UK spends significantly on design related products and services [possibly because, without an unfair competition tort, the UK has to?]; but there is very low awareness of design rights. The research also found that registered design rights are used mainly in specific business sectors, such as furniture and clothing.
These reports are available via the IPO web-site www.ipo.gov.uk/pro-ipresearch/ipresearch-right/ipresearch-right-design".
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
A media release from the UK government's News Distribution Service this morning calls for more evidence on which it presumably proposes to base its policies. The text reads, in relevant part: