It’s not often as Chief Executive that I get the chance to stop and reflect on past achievements.
This week I had just such a chance. I was reading our very first annual report on the IPO's activities to support innovation and growth. The report was for the last financial year and was laid in the Houses of Parliament by our Secretary of State, Dr Vince Cable.
So what were our key areas of work in 2013/14
Well, this year saw the delivery of many of the reforms we've made following Professor Hargreaves' report on IP and growth in 2011. Intellectual Property Bill, now the Intellectual Property Act 2014, was a major piece of work.
The Bill brought in some important measures to support business including:
- criminal sanctions for the deliberate copying of registered designs, helping SME's protect new products
- improvements to our patent services which will help businesses check whether a patent they hold is likely to be valid against challenge
- streamlining international patents processing by sharing information about patent searches with other Patent Offices
It was also this Act that introduced the requirement for the report on the IPO's activities. Strictly we don't have to publish a report this year, as the law only applies from next year. But openness and transparency about our work is something close to my heart. So I think it was right to start this good practice immediately.
The Act was not the only show in town last year. We also made changes to the copyright system to make it fit for purpose in the digital age, which will deliver hundreds of millions of benefits over the next decade as businesses find new ways of using copyright material. Alongside this we reached over 14 million people with messages around respect for copyright. This included some innovative approaches such as a Karaoke Shower and a downloadable game!
It is important we never lose sight of our primary function to grant high quality rights. Last year we received over 22,000 patent applications, over 5,500 applications to register a design and almost 49,000 trade mark applications. Our rights granting work is recognised around the world for its high quality and demand continues to rise. The report explains the work we have done to make sure we can continue to meet this demand.
One thing I am incredibly proud of at the IPO is our commitment to evidence based decision making. We have led the way internationally in our economic research and approach. The report sets out not only what we have done, but the impact we expect this to have. It shows how we have used the evidence we have to make the best possible decisions to support growth. I hope you will have some time to read the report, and please do share your thoughts with us.