The evidence base on the impact of intellectual property is contentious with reports from different perspectives published - almost tit for tat. An uninformed neutral might feel the idea is to attack another’s research and to win an argument rather necessarily adding to or improving the evidence. So the big question.... How can we move away from this to a more constructive and collaborative approach to build evidence that we can all use; which is robust and where the methodologies at least can be open to scrutiny; and which makes best use of all our scarce resources.
Following the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) published its guidance on standards of evidence used in the development of policy.
This guidance set out criteria and rationale for identifying the forms of evidence the IPO aspired to and what it would expect in return. The criteria are that it should be clear, verifiable and able to be peer reviewed. This has now been in circulation for 2 years. Experience and feedback tells us that whilst the general thrust of the document is correct, the IPO needs to take a wider view of what should be taken into account. Not just hard economics and figures, but social research and case studies. What else could / should the IPO consider given the general criteria that has been set? What is missing?
Many small businesses and trade associations struggle to gather data, especially in a fast moving and dynamic business environment. How can they be supported to deliver and collect evidence? These are important areas for government to understand and the IPO needs to reaffirm its flexibility in assessing evidence of all kinds. But it is important that the focus of this debate is not fixated on the evidence we already have. IPO wants to build partnerships, to help develop methodologies and data sets that people can share and build upon. It should be an objective for us all to develop an evidence base that is robust, clear, verifiable and open to scrutiny where possible. With business, IPO recognises that this isn’t always possible due to commercial reasons.
This is why the IPO has been working with Ofcom to deliver a workshop to look at current research methods and to hear from industry, academia and the user community about how partnerships can be built; how robust and open methodologies can be shared; to consider the strengths of collaborative working to build an evidence base that we can all contribute to, and use. It also has to ‘speak’ to policymakers, not just economists.
The workshop is on 13th September and there is limited space to attend. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t feed in your views and suggestions. You can reply to this blog post and any views / comments / suggestions will be fed into the debate on the day. A non-attributable summary of the discussions from the workshop will be published shortly after the event, alongside a revised version of the good evidence for policy guide. This is your opportunity to influence our thinking, so please contribute to the discussion.
If you have questions or feedback, do comment on this blogpost and we’ll do our best to respond.