Your chance to re-make the UK's IP laws in the image of a startup

Back in November last year the UK’s Prime Minister said he was announcing a number of initiatives aimed at technology companies. Since then there have been a few periphery announcements from the various large tech companies (Google, Facebook et al) about what they would do to help. But one thing that was on the agenda was a review of the Intellectual Property rules. PM David Cameron confirmed a six month review into IP law that he hopes will help attract technology companies to the UK.

The US position on IP leans towards a ‘fair use’ environment, whereby IP can be used to a certain level without owner consent. This is very close the to Creative Commons licenses which aided the growth of startups like Flickr. In the UK copyrighted material is more highly restricted in use. Generally in Europe we rely too much on copyright and not enough on innovation. Witness Nokia’s suing of Apple for instance.

So in this new IP review web business models, costs and complications surrounding the enforcement of IP law ad the costs to startups for accessing services to protect their IP are all up for discussion.

And incredibly the government is putting its money where its mouth is. It’s appointed a panel of IP experts, chaired by Professor Ian Hargreaves, to review the IP system – including copyright, trademark, patent and design rights, along with more informal types of IP – and its effect on innovation.

They’re in the process of meeting with a wide range of people and on Tuesday, 15 February, they’re organising a meeting in London.

The thing is though, you can’t come to the meeting unless you submit your views first and get invited. In order to get a balanced mix of perspectives, they’re asking potential participants – entrepreneurs and startups – to fill out an application by Wednesday, 9 February (all information will be kept confidential). That’s tomorrow. The event is being organised with Coadec, the Coalition for a Digital Economy.

However, I’m worried. You know why? I’m worried because I know what Brits are like.

Here is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to talk with the government’s IP review panel about the effects of IP rights on their startups.

I’m worried too many people will say: I’ll let someone else do it.

Well, here’s the news: you’ll get the laws you asked for. And if tech entrepreneurs don’t step up to the plate and apply to speak to this panel then frankly they will get what they deserve in the resulting law-making process.

So let’s do this. Let’s feed into this process so we don’t get IP laws that stop us from creating great companies.