IP or not IP? That is the question

At the UK Manufacturing Summit in March, one of the breakout sessions explored the vexed question of intellectual property – a subject close to the heart of any innovator or designer.

What was striking about this session was the level of scepticism with which delegates approached the subject and their tendency to regard IP as a 'rich man's toy' – and expensive luxury that was nice on paper, but was of limited value in the real world if one's antagonist had deeper pockets than you.

While acknowledging the truth of some of this, Anthony Albutt of leading IP legal specialist D Young & Co LLP, who led the session, went to great lengths to point out the options and strategies available to companies and to help the audience to understand ways in which they could not only protect their existing IP, but actually start to make it work for them.

While the discussion ranged widely and was constructive, it is fair to say that one of the clear and repeated messages was that too many engineers were not armed with sufficient information about IP and the legal issues surrounding it to make informed choices on the subject. One delegate pointed out that discussion of the subject probably represented at most a one or two-hour lecture over the whole of an engineering design course.

It is therefore with the intention of addressing this knowledge gap that Eureka has teamed up with D Young & Co to produce a new feature starting in this issue and appearing monthly for the rest of 2012. In it, we will attempt to address some of the key aspects of intellectual property law and, hopefully to answer any questions our readers may have. The feature appears on page 43 of this issue. We hope it proves valuable.

Paul Fanning

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