Small Businesses: Intellectual Property

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills written question – answered on 10th May 2016.

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Photo of The Earl of Clancarty The Earl of Clancarty Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have carried out research to ascertain the degree of awareness of small businesses about intellectual property rights.

Photo of Baroness Neville-Rolfe Baroness Neville-Rolfe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) IP Awareness Survey was first conducted in 2006 and was rerun in 2010 and early 2015. The survey establishes a sense of understanding of IP and IP rights across all sizes of UK firms and all sectors of UK industry. The most recent survey contained 3 sections: an IP knowledge section which tested the respondent's familiarity with IP, a management section which sought to discover how firms were administering IP within their organisation and a final section which focussed on where IP information and advice was sourced from.

Key findings include:

  • 94% of respondents thought that it was important for businesses to understand how to protect their IP.
  • 52% of responding firms had protected some sort of IP (either through a single right or a combination).
  • 65% of respondents thought that confidentiality agreements are important to protecting their IP. This method of protection was the most popular.
  • The majority of surveyed firms have not been involved in a dispute around IP, (over 75%).
  • 96% of firms have not valued their IP.
  • 79% of firms did not know that telling people about an invention before applying for a patent could lead to an unsuccessful application.
  • 28% of firms check they are not infringing other people’s IP, the most popular IP management activity amongst respondents.
  • 20% of firms indicated that they license their IP, allowing others to use it for a fee.

In addition to this formal piece of research the IPO routinely surveys businesses in the course of designing and delivering its business support and outreach activities. This is intended to help to monitor and assess the effectiveness of these activities to ensure they are fit for purpose and if necessary improve, develop and even cease them for alternative approaches.

The IPO is using findings from its own and other business surveys to inform its approach to business outreach and the creation of IP advisory and support tools.

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