What do Cliff Richard and Scientific Generics have in common?

26 Apr 2006 | News
The review of intellectual property rights in the UK have created some strange allies.

When the Financial Times runs letters from fading rock stars, you know that the dog days of summer are not that far way. The "star" was Ian Anderson, a member of some fading '60s band. An even older pop geriatric, Sir Cliff Richard, has also chipped in with his own defence of copyright protection for recordings made 50 years ago.
Now it is the turn of Scientific Generics, the self styled "leading Cambridge technology company," to climb aboard the bandwagon. It has just put out a press release telling us what it wants the government to do.
Scientific Generics doesn't have any valuable old recordings that we know of, although we do know that, like us, Mick McLean, Head of Economics and Public Policy at the company, once hung out at '60s rock concerts, but it sure has a pile of intellectual property rights (IPR). This time it isn't really promoting its own knowledge but is championing the cause of all those SMEs with IPR.
Scientific Generics wants the government "to provide UK technology SMEs with tools that will help them further protect new ideas and find the right areas for innovation. If the proposals are adopted, UK companies could be able to map their own innovation space, increasing the success rates in UK technology innovation."
The cause of the flurry of campaigning by "musicians" and the likes of Scientific Generics is the review of the the UK's IPR that  Andrew Gowers, erstwhile editor of the FT, is chairing. (There's something about retiring FT editors, Gowers's predecessor, Richard Lambert gave us the massively influential Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration.) The press release tells us what is in the evidence that the company has sent to Gowers. This promotes the idea of "patent mapping," a technique that "present complex information about the patent landscape in the form of a coloured ‘map’ which highlights strengths and weaknesses, ‘hotspots’ of activity and trends over time".
The release quotes McLean, who is, he tells us, now more interested in theatre than "rock and roll," as saying:  “Our submission to the review suggests practical ways in which the system could be improved to help small firms make better use of patents based on our own experiences. The IP framework must balance the need to encourage firms and individuals to innovate and invest in new ideas and creative works, with the need to ensure that markets remain competitive and that future innovation is not impeded."
Watch out for even  more Gowers related pronouncements. (The deadline for submissions whizzed by a couple of days ago.) And do let us know if you have anything to say on the subject.

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