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Intellectual Property Bill 2013-14
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The Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech on 8 May 2013 and aims to make it easier for businesses to protect their intellectual property.
The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth was published in May 2011 and made 10 recommendations designed to ensure that the UK had an IP framework best suited to promoting innovation and economic growth in the digital age. The 10 recommendations were broadly accepted by the government.
In relation to patents, innovation and design rights, the Hargreaves review had expressed concern that patents in some business areas were "anti-competitive" and the design rights system in the UK was not necessarily geared to the needs of business.
In June 2012, the Intellectual Property Office launched a consultation into the expansion of its Patent Opinions Service in order to make it more comprehensive and deter unnecessary litigation. In response to the consultation, the government indicated its intention to legislate on this matter.
In July 2012 a consultation was also launched to improve the design framework to make the design rights process easier to understand. In April 2013 the government confirmed its intention to legislate in this area to simplify design law.
The main aims of the Bill include:
- Implementing the Unified Patent Court and introducing a single patent system in order to make it possible for British businesses to protect their inventions across EU countries in a single application.
- Measures to make it easier for businesses to understand what is protected under design law and will make design ownership clearer to encourage trade in design intangible assets and reduce business costs.
- Strengthening design protection through the introduction of criminal penalties for UK registered designs and the introduction of a design rights opinion service with the aim of enabling more IP disputes to be settled without resorting to litigation.
- Allowing the UK to share information on unpublished patent applications with other patent offices to help clear existing application backlogs and speed up clearance times.
Should the Bill become an Act, it will extend to the United Kingdom.
The Intellectual Property Bill completed its committee stage in the House of Lords on 18 June. Line-by-line examination by Peers led to only a small number of government-led changes being made to the Bill, most notably to clause 21 on the recognition of foreign copyright works and performances.
During the three days in the committee, a number of unsuccessful amendments were proposed to the Bill relating to ownership of design, unregistered design rights, the patents opinion service and infringement exceptions. The Bill moved to report stage where it faced further consideration by Peers.
Peers were given the opportunity to make further amendments to the Intellectual Property Bill as it reached its report stage in the House of Lords on 23 July. Five technical government amendments were agreed to while an opposition amendment relating to criminal proceedings for the unauthorised copying of design in business was defeated on a division. Lord Clement-Jones tabled a number of amendments previously considered during committee stage of the Bill without success. The Bill was passed to the third reading stage.
The Intellectual Property Bill completed its passage through the Lords on 30 July with two more government amendments agreed at third reading. Intellectual property minister, Viscount Younger successfully introduced an amendment, building on an amendment previously moved at report stage by Labour peers, relating to the a defence for any person who reasonably believes that they were not infringing on copyright. The Bill was passed to the House of Commons for consideration by MPs.