Intellectual property and the external environment
An Intellectual Property Office case study

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Page 4: Legal and economic factors

Legal factors

Legislation concerning copyright, patents, trade marks and designs sets the framework for the IPO's work. This legislation shapes what help and advice the IPO needs to offer to innovators.

Since 2004 the IPO has also been involved in combating IP crime. This crime takes many forms, including counterfeiting goods, pirating DVDs and unauthorised sharing of music downloads. The IPO is raising awareness of IP crime and its impact on businesses, individuals and the economy.

The IPO's new supply chain toolkit helps in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. It includes a step-by-step approach on what action a business should take if it finds counterfeit goods within its supply chain. It offers guidance on how to strengthen and protect IP assets.

Economic factors

The IPO is also responding to the changing economic environment. It is encouraging business to keep investing in innovation despite the recent recession. It is also encouraging entrepreneurial start-up.

History suggests that those businesses which invest in innovation during difficult economic times are more likely to survive than those who hold back. This is also true for new technology start-up companies. For example, DuPont invented both nylon and neoprene during the recession of the 1930s. It took advantage of the low cost of both materials and scientific expertise to invest in innovation. The company was not alone. Hewlett Packard and Polaroid were launched as entrepreneurial start-ups around the same time.

Innovation is arguably even more important today. Instead of spending money on machinery and equipment, businesses were using innovation to increase productivity. Two-thirds of productivity growth in the UK economy between 2000 and 2007 was driven by innovation rather than capital investment. This, in turn, will create wealth as businesses use their intellectual property to produce products and services that generate income.

For example, when a software company writes new computer code, this becomes part of the company”s intellectual property.  The code is packaged as software and is usually sold to customers under licence. This licence tells purchasers the terms under which they can use the software, for example, not copying or sharing.

To help businesses keep their costs down, the IPO has made registering patents both easier and cheaper. It has done the same with trade marks. This allows small businesses in particular to protect and therefore benefit from their IP.

Intellectual Property Office | Intellectual property and the external environment