Gowers Review on UK Intellectual Property Framework


In december 2006 verscheen de "Gowers Review": een onafhankelijk onderzoek naar de vraag of het raamwerk van intellectuele eigendomsrechten in het Verenigd Koninkrijk nog aan de eisen van de tijd voldoet.

De conclusie is dat dit grotendeel het geval is, maar dat er drie aspecten zijn die aandacht behoeven:

  • effectievere handhavingsmogelijkheden
  • lagere kosten voor het verkrijgen van rechten, en
  • beter uitgebalanceerde en flexibelere rechten.

In the Executive Summary is daarover het volgende te lezen:
The Review found the current system to be broadly performing satisfactorily. However, there are a number of areas where reform is necessary to improve the system for all its users. The Review therefore sets out a range of pragmatic recommendations, which can be grouped around three themes: first, stronger enforcement of rights; second, lower costs for business; and finally, balanced and flexible rights.

Counterfeit goods and piracy are damaging the UK’s creative industries, as well as
threatening jobs.
The Review recommends:

  • consulting to ensure that an effective and dissuasive system of damages exists
    for civil IP cases. This will provide an effective deterrent to IP infringement;
  • matching penalties in the physical and digital world for IP infringement. This
    will remove the current unjustifiable anomaly whereby infringement in the
    digital world carries softer penalties than infringement in the physical world.
    This is particularly important given that so much infringement now occurs via
    digital media; and
  • giving Trading Standards the power and duty to enforce copyright
    infringement. This will ensure that preventing the sale of copyright infringing
    goods, for example counterfeit CDs, will become a duty of Trading Standards
    agencies throughout the country.

It is expensive to obtain and defend IP rights in the UK, and costs spiral when
securing rights internationally. These costs are onerous for all businesses, and for SMEs in particular. 
The Review recommends:

  • better provision of IP information to UK businesses at home and abroad. This
    will extend from greater information provided to firms on how to use IP
    strategically when they register at Companies House, through stronger
    support and better information via the Business Link network, to expert
    advice provided by UK Trade and Investment and the Patent Office for UK
    firms abroad;
  • consulting to enable fast-track litigation to be used in IP cases. This should
    mean that capped fees, limited disclosure and time limits will apply to IP
    cases, greatly reducing the cost; and
  • supporting the establishment of a unitary Community Patent (COMPAT). This
    will substantially reduce the cost of patent applications in Europe, which are
    currently twice as expensive as in the USA.

Balanced and flexible rights should enable consumers to use material in ways that do
not damage the interests of rights holders and will help ensure that citizens have trust in the system. They will enable cultural institutions to preserve our heritage, and help research institutes to further knowledge by using ideas protected by others
. The Review recommends:

  • proposing an ‘orphan works’ provision to the European Commission. This will
    make it easier for creative artists to re-use ‘orphan’ copyright protected
    material (for which no author can be found), thus unlocking previously
    unusable material;
  • introducing a limited private copying exception, which will allow consumers
    to format shift legitimately purchased content, for example music from a CD
    to an MP3 player. This will allow consumers to use copyright protected
    material in a manner which does not damage the interests of rights holders;
  • clarifying the research exception. This will create greater scope for research on
    protected material by universities and business and expand the stock of
    knowledge; and
  • enabling libraries to copy and format shift master copies of archival works.
    This will prevent valuable cultural artefacts from deteriorating because they
    exist only on outdated formats.

De Gowers Review is vrij te downloaden van de website van HM Treasury: