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Help SMEs protect their ideas says Forum of Private Business

The Forum of Private Business is calling for small firms’ patent rights to be better protected amid concerns that many cannot afford to sue companies which steal their ideas.

In its submission to the Hargreaves Review of intellectual property (IP) the forum is urging the Government to provide greater protection for small business innovations after complaints that breaches are going unpunished because of the steep costs involved in pursuing them in court.

In addition to steep litigation fees, the forum is concerned that patent costs, the slow process involved in protecting intellectual property, HM Revenue & Custom’s (HMRC’s) lack of clarity over the use of Research and Development Tax Relief and a lack of support within the UK’s public procurement process are combining to hinder innovation-led growth.

“Entrepreneurs are the UK’s real innovators and this innovation is one of the key elements that we need to nurture to drive economic recovery and growth,” said Alex Jackman, senior policy adviser at the FPB.

“There are several long-standing issues in the area of intellectual property so many of the measures outlined in the Hargreaves Review are certainly welcome. Specifically, we want small business owners to be able to secure their intellectual property more efficiently and cost-effectively, including through greater overseas protection of UK patents and IP.

“We are also calling for better promotion of the concept of developing innovation, as well as improvements to supply chain cohesiveness and simpler, more effective tools and guidance alongside readily available specialist support, academic innovation hubs and incentives – including funding – to encourage small businesses to embrace patents and trademarks.”

Jackman added: “We hope the Government takes these recommendations forward in the right way – it is essential that any changes to intellectual property law or the IP tax credit system are simple to understand, easy to implement and do not add to the £17bn annual red tape burden on small businesses.”

The Forum has been called to give evidence to the Government’s Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee inquiry into the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual property on 1 November.


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