Last week highlighted the importance of intangible assets in the UK economy and showed the wheels of democracy slowly turning to improve protection of your intellectual assets.

Government figures published on 31 March show that UK investment in intangible assets now totals £137.5 billion and nearly half of this investment, £65.6 billion, was protected by formal Intellectual Property Rights. It might make you wonder about the proportion of the value of your own business that stems from you intellectual property.

Given the value of intellectual property to the UK, it’s only right that UK IP law is taken out and given an occasional polish, which is what has been going on for about a year now. The primary aims of the current IP Bill are to simplify and improve design and patent protection. It seems to have achieved that, but with a light touch. I’m all in favour of small improvements to law like this, rather than sweeping changes with unintended consequences that introduce more problems than are solved.

On 2 April the Bill finished the “ping-pong” between the House of Commons and House of Lords. Now all the amendments have been approved, all that remains is Royal Assent for the IP Bill to become law. It was hardly a packed house, looking at the televised debate, reflecting that the changes introduced by the Bill have not been too controversial.


The headline change of the Bill is making it a criminal offence intentionally to copy a UK or EU-registered design, like it is for copyright and trade mark infringement.

Another aspect of the Bill is that patent owners will be able to mark their patented products with a website address rather than the granted patent number to get the full benefit of patent protection.

A small but significant part of the bill paves the way for the European Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court. We’ll do a future blog post on that subject, so watch this space!

For more information, see the useful summaries and links at the UK Intellectual Property website.