FAST discusses ‘IP for Growth’

29 Jan, 2013

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) started 2013 with a bang, by hosting its annual Members’ Briefing, ‘IP for Growth’, at the heart of Westminster. The event, which was attended by FAST members, MPs, technology and legal experts, and supportively hosted by Fiona Bruce MP, sought to set the Intellectual Property (IP) agenda for the coming year and shed light on recent and upcoming developments in the industry.


By way of introduction, the Guardian’s technology editor, Charles Arthur, discussed the rapidly changing models for the delivery of digital product, with the rapid rise of App Stores and piracy issues as well as cloud implications for software companies. He also addressed the issue of the perceived value and worth of product online.


His Honour Judge Colin Birss QC, gave an overview of his work with the Patents County Court (PCC), and the Court’s transformation in recent years. In light of the PCC’s mandate to facilitate access to justice for small to medium-sized businesses with an IP dispute, the court has made efforts to streamline its processes and limit costs. As a direct result of these reforms, the caseload of the PCC has doubled since October 2010, currently hearing 200 cases annually. His Honour Judge Birss also touched upon the recently introduced small claims track for copyright cases, which has enjoyed active use in recent months.


Andy Burton, Chair of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), gave an overview of Cloud Computing in the UK and discussed how Cloud is driving a paradigm shift in the creation, consumption and delivery of IP online. Andy stressed that Cloud had transformed the IT supply chain, changing the experiences and expectations of both end users and software vendors. He touched upon CIF’s special interest group ’Software Value Management’, which has been established to assist businesses manage their software portfolios in the context of Cloud Computing.


Pete Wishart MP & Vice Chair of the All Party Group for Intellectual Property, offered a summary of the Group’s recent findings on the role of the Government in promoting and protecting IP. Mr Wishart took the audience through recent history; from the Hargreaves Review in 2011, to the present day raising concerns. He stated that IP is a property right and spoke of the role of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and its need to focus on the creation of rights as much as the issue of their exploitation.


Concluding proceedings, host of the evening, Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, discussed her personal experiences of the Intellectual Property system as a lawyer, and her support for creators who are true inventors of product with everyday application.


FAST’s Chairman, Philip Keown, who had overseen proceedings, said: “This event has gone a long way to highlight some of the complex issues currently facing software developers as we head in to the New Year. New technologies, such as Cloud, are changing the landscape rapidly, and it is incumbent to adapt. On a positive note, as we have seen, the Government is actively engaging with the issues of copyright and IP protection, and rights holders are beginning to feel the benefit, which will no doubt make for an interesting year ahead.”

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