Intellectual Property law or IP law as it is more often referred to as the Legal entitlement in connection with creative ideas and works such as literary works, artistic works, designs and inventions. The purpose of UK Intellectual Property law is ultimately to encourage innovation and creativity by protecting the works of the individual and giving commercial value. Theft of a person’s idea or copying of a person’s work is not generally taken as seriously as theft of a person’s TV or phone, hence the need for IP law to protect this.
In the UK there is the Intellectual Property Office which was established in April 2007 as the government body responsible for Intellectual Property rights in the UK. Part of its responsibilities are examining issuing or rejecting patents and maintaining registers of intellectual property including patents, designs and trade marks in the UK.
The World Intellectual Property Convention of 1968 defines IP as including;
- Literary, artistic and scientific works
- Performances of performing artists, phonograms and broadcasts
- Inventions in all fields of human endeavour
- Scientific discoveries
- Industrial designs
- Trademarks, service marks and commercial names and designations
- Protection against unfair competition, and
- All other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields
UK Intellectual Property Law is in line with the European Union and the UK joined the World Intellectual Property Organization in 1970 and is party to numerous treaties. There has recently been a deal in which a new patent court will be based in London. This makes it simpler for companies in the UK to defend their patent rights and business ideas in Europe only having to go to court once instead of fighting their case in each European country. The decision that London should host this new court shows an exceeding amount of confidence in the strength of the UK’s Intellectual Property regime.
The UK are also looking to make their tax system a more appealing place for innovation and growth. As such they have introduced the Patent Box regime which is specifically designed to give tax relief to profits made from Intellectual property. This regime applies a 10% corporation tax rate to profits attributed to patents by April 2017. This will occur in stages: in April 2013, 60% of the benefit will be phased in, increasing by 10% per tax year until April 2017, at which point the fully reduced 10% rate will be effective.
The Patent Box regime includes income sources from the following IP’s for the purposes of this relief;
- Proceeds or royalties from the sale or licensing of the patent or patented invention
- Proceeds from the sale of goods (e.g. spare parts) which incorporate the patented invention or which are designed to be incorporated into the patented invention
- Damages and settlement funds from patent infringement actions.
Intellectual Property is an evolving field whose influence on technology, social development and Economic growth is immense. Certain legal entities that are active internationally will not allow Intellectual Property to be sold in countries that do not have adequate IP laws to protect the owner’s right. The UK are serious about their IP laws and are a very respected jurisdiction when it comes to this. They are also introducing favorable regimes such as the Patent Box and modernizing Intellectual Properties systems to encourage investment and trade into this area.