Reports for the Government Intellectual Property Advisory Committee

In 2002 the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre (St Peter’s College) drafted four reports, commissioned by the IP Institute on behalf of IPAC (the government IP Advisory Committee). The reports, designed to inform the committee’s work programme, scoped the current research scene in a number of major IP-related areas. The reports are set out below.

  • Developments in the Law of Patents and Industrial Designs: a Global Perspective (Eddy D Ventose)
  • A Scoping Study of Global Trademark Law: the Rise of the ® (Dev Saif Gangjee)
  • Present and Future Priorities in Copyright Law – a Scoping Study (Yoav Mazeh)
  • The Economics of Intellectual Property: a Review to Identify Themes for Future Research (Padraig Dixon & Christine Greenhalgh)

To view these reports please click on the relevant link below:

IPAC Report 1 – IPAC Report 2 – IPAC Report 3 – IPAC Report 4

The Institute is currently seeking to address the following research priority areas: interested parties from any of our stakeholding communities are invited to comment on any aspect these by completing the form below.

We would welcome your views on priority issues in IP and / or any information that you believe might help us to pursue the research topics listed below.

Pursuing a High Quality, Relevant Research Agenda

The Institute is unique in its access to knowledge and expertise from within the “IP community”. Our Board and Council are comprised of senior and influential figures from the judiciary, the legal profession, industrial IP professionals, government policy makers, business people and leading academics. Following extensive internal consultation, the Institute draws up a research agenda, set out in its annual “Landscape Research Proposals”. These are used as the basis for wider, external consultation so that definitive research priorities can be established. Having identified and engaged suitable research teams, the Institute will either fund the research entirely from its own resources or, more often, seek external funding from government or appropriate private sources. For any given project, the Institute adds significant value, by managing and focusing the research effort, and by disseminating the results in the most effective way (through publications, seminars, discussion meetings and conferences).

Set out below are a number of questions, the answers to which we hope to provide through research we are currently carrying out or seeking to pursue as a matter of priority.

Copyright & Digital Technology……

The impact of new communication and reproduction technology has raised a number of fundamental issues concerning the protection and enforcement of copyright.

Is copyright law achieving a sensible balance between protecting the rights of creators, maintaining the competitiveness of copyright-dependent industry and allowing an acceptable level of freedom of information and communication?

……gauging the effects on research……

Following a scoping study we have carried out with the SCRIPT research centre at Edinburgh University (setting out current provisions for copyright protection across major jurisdictions) we are now pursuing empirical work that will investigate the specific effects of copyright law on the research community.

Is copyright adversely affecting the efficiency of the research base by unduly restricting access to information?

……on EU business and society……

The EU Copyright Directive contains numerous exceptions and limitations. We intend to examine each of these and carry out research to provide a deeper understanding of their consequences to EU businesses and society at large.

Are the provisions for copyright protection in Europe supporting industry effectively and, if so, is this at the expense of the rest of us?

……on technological development……

The Software Directive provides an exception to copyright for a developer of a computer programme to perform certain acts on an existing programme to obtain information which will allow him/her to interface one programme with the other. It is possible, even likely, that decompiling computer programmes in this way will infringe patent rights.

What are the relative positions, in law, of the patent and copyright owners, and is this likely to hinder technological development in the software industry?

The Patent Research Exemption

Patent law seeks not only to protect the rights of inventors, and provide a stimulus for research investment, but also to promote technological understanding and development. Activities that are purely research-based, and have no commercial implications, are not generally deemed to be infringing the rights of a patent holder. However, not least because of increasing commercial activity within university research departments, there is a great deal of uncertainty over what should and should not be allowed under the research exemption.

Is the current provision for the research exemption being properly interpreted, and is it fulfilling its aim to promote technological development without unduly transgressing the rights of patent holders? Should we seek global harmonisation on this?

The Business Implications of Business Method Patents

Currently there are exceptions in UK and European patent law that exclude patents for methods of doing business. There are no corresponding exceptions in US patent law, and many business method patents are being granted, which are unlikely to be granted in Europe. The aim of this research is to study the business implications of granting patents for business methods.

Should the UK/EU maintain a different scope of patent protection from the US, excluding business method patents, or should it follow the US example?

Current Law and Practice Regarding Patents for Genetic Sequences.

The Institute is currently working with the DTI to examine how the EU Directive for the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions is being applied in UK, with particular regard to the protection of gene sequences.

Is the current law and practice in this area stimulating or stifling biotechnological research, and is it helping or hindering biotechnology industry in the region?

Intellectual Property Enforcement

Of course, achieving a workable IP legal framework counts for little without effective enforcement. Our research priorities include:

An examination of the current provisions for litigation in the UK through the Patent and Patent County Courts, with a view to making recommendations for amendments to the litigation protocol.

Examination of the current provisions for alternative dispute resolution and an investigation of other possible alternative routes.

An examination of the current provisions available for IP litigation insurance, and an assessment of its usefulness to IP rightholders, particularly for lone inventors or those within small and medium-sized enterprises.

How can we maximise access to litigation, minimising costs while maintaining strong and equitable enforcement?

Intellectual Property – Driver of Competition and Growth, or Unnecessary Constraint?

Underpinning many of the IP Institute’s research objectives, particularly at the global level, is the desire to learn more about the role of IP law as a driver (or inhibitor) of competition and trade, and economic development. We strongly believe that there is a real need for extensive empirical research, providing robust data, which will help us to understand the social and economic effects of IP law in a number of crucial areas. Our research priorities are focused on the following issues, which apply to all forms of IP rights.

Gauging the relative effects of global IP systems on countries and regions that are at different stages of economic and technological development.

At what stage do IP regimes become a positive factor for social and economic development in the world’s poorest regions? And, what are the effects of IP law relative to other factors either helping or hindering economic success?

Gauging the true social and economic consequences of national or international exhaustion of IP rights, and the consequent implications of restricted or parallel trading systems.

To what extent, if at all, should IP regimes be allowed to impact on the flow (and cost) of goods, services and technology between world markets?

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