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Intellectual Property is Increasingly Important to Businesses

Businesses across the UK are making increasingly larger investments in their intangible assets, such as R&D, software and design, according to new research by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

Greater Investment in Intangible Assets

The research found that companies are investing more in these intangible assets than they are in traditional ‘tangible’ areas of investment like property, machinery and IT. In 2014, intangible investment reached £133 billion, which is apparently 9% more than the total spent on traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ items of investment.

Since the turn of the century intangible investment by organisations has increased by £45 billion, which the IPO says highlights the UK’s important role in the global “knowledge economy”. Investment in tangible assets also rose by nearly 38% between 2011 and 2014 - from £87.9 billion to £121 billion.

In addition, the IPO’s report revealed how important manufacturing and financial services are to the UK’s innovation economy. These two industries alone account for just 20% of total hours worked but are responsible for 58% of intangible investment.

Intellectual Property Rights

In 2014 more than half of intangible investments (53%) were protected by Intellectual Property Rights - a 3% increase from 2011. Of these assets:

  • 25% were protected by copyright
  • 11% were protected by trade marks
  • 11% were protected by design rights
  • 6% were protected by patents

Innovation is reportedly a major element of the Government’s plan to help UK companies drive future economic growth up and down the country, and IP rights play an increasingly important role in delivering this.

“The UK has an impressive track record when it comes to innovation and creativity,” explained Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister of State for Energy and Intellectual Property. “Investment in intangible assets like research and patents helps businesses grow - which is why the UK has a strong system in place to protect their IP rights, and encourage further investment.”

“Our intellectual property regime has helped create an environment in which innovators and creators can prosper knowing full well that their hard work will be rewarded and rigorously protected,” she added.

European Developments

The European Commission also recognises the importance of intellectual property to businesses. It has recently published details of proposed reforms to European copyright rules, which it says will modernise copyright to increase cultural diversity in Europe and content available online, while bringing clearer rules for all online players.

As a key part of its Digital Single Market strategy, the Commission has adopted proposals to allow:

  • Better choice and access to content online and across borders.
  • Improved copyright rules on education, research, cultural heritage and inclusion of disabled people.
  • A fairer and sustainable marketplace for creators, the creative industries and the press.

"Our creative industries will benefit from these reforms which tackle the challenges of the digital age successfully while offering European consumers a wider choice of content to enjoy,” commented Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society. “We are proposing a copyright environment that is stimulating, fair and rewards investment."

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For expert legal advice on these issues, or other areas of commercial law, then contact our experienced commercial lawyers today.

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