Gowers Review of Intellectual Property

At the Enterprise Conference on 2 December 2005, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that, as part of the Pre-Budget Report 2005 package, he was asking Andrew Gowers to lead an Independent Review to examine the UK's intellectual property framework.

The Open Rights Group has been formally invited to participate. We are currently drafting our submission and wish to include your thoughts and opinions. We have reproduced the Call for Evidence below and invite you to contribute - just hit 'respond' next to the paragraph you wish to comment on.

Many of the questions asked by Andrew Gowers in this review are very focused, but you should feel free to comment on the issues and the wider implications rather than feel obliged to provide specific answers. If you want to talk about issues not raised by this call for evidence, please do - just leave your comments on the Introduction.

this site was built by
Open Rights Group
based on a template by

The Review will provide an analysis of these issues, seek to identify others, and report with targeted and practical policy recommendations as appropriate. The Review will also fulfil the Government’s existing commitment to examine whether the current term of protection on sound recordings and performers’ rights in sound recordings is appropriate.

In many cases the Review’s recommendations will focus on how the Government might address these issues domestically. However, much of IP policy is agreed in an international context, and is often subject to EU legislation or international treaties and conventions. The Review may therefore also make policy recommendations at the international level, considering how best the Government can continue to take a lead internationally. It will bear in mind the need to balance the Government’s aims of promoting innovation, openness to trade and investment, and international development concerns. It will also consider how best to influence the European Commission’s agenda on intellectual property policy in the EU, including its review of legislation on copyright and related rights.

Moreover, with the increasing pace of technological change, in particular the spread of digital technology and growing use of the Internet, the Review will seek to provide a solid foundation for the Government’s long term strategic vision for IP policy, based on sound economic principles. Its key aim is to ensure IP systems remain appropriate in the face of global economic and technological change and the increased importance of the knowledge economy worldwide.

Link to this section

4 responses

  1. David Mytton Says:

    The review is all well and good so long as it has an effect at the end. And within a reasonably timeframe. Laws take time to change, but I would like some kind of timescale defined as to what will happen afterwards and when, and what the government will do with the results and how they will put them into effect. The integration with Europe is more complex and so a strategy should be decided for recommendations for that. Can suggestions which clearly benefit the UK be implemented independently of the EU?

  2. Tom Morris Says:

    A number of points:

    1. This section claims that it will produce a strategic vision based on “sound economic principles”, but makes no mention of the fact that copyright is actually a contractarian bargain struck between the citizen – through the State – and the IP holder. The government should take note of the fact that intellectual property is a bargain, and that bargain relies upon the citizens of this country – the Public Domain – getting some benefit from the intellectual property bargain. Ever-increasing copyright term extensions do not offer any benefit.

    2. The section mentions that much of IP policy is determined internationally. The Review should take account of the fact that this is not done by democratically elected bodies or governmental representatives, but rather by bodies such as WIPO, the DVB and so on.

    3. The second paragraph of this section mentions that the Review should aim to balance “aims of promoting innovation, openness to trade and investment, and international development concerns”. This should also include the protection of the end user and the promotion of the benefits of public domain work to both the end user, producers and creativity as a whole (with all the usual examples that we use – Disney’s use of public domain fairy tales as a basis for it’s movies, Hollywood’s use of Shakespearean reinvention in movies such as West Side Story, the practice of commentary and criticism which has elevated the Bible and Shakespeare to foundational status for Western culture and the English language, and the way that if Hollywood set the rules, Shakespeare wouldn’t be readable because the Shakespeare player licence would have been remotely revoked).

  3. James Says:

    Yeah, right, whatever! Key point: If you want a knowledge-based economy (I do too btw.) then, err, free the knowledge and don’t arbritarily restrict it. To be frank, I’m kind of sitting on the fence a bit here. I have no qualms with “IP” when it’s applied to genuine innovations in the physical domain, but I do have serious issues with it being extended to what is essentially “thought”. There is a line to be drawn, and computer software, being a branch of mathematics should not be patentable (but should remain under copyright where that path is chosen by the author).

  4. Gordon Says:

    This consultation at the present time seems to take little interest in what is going on in the EU in regard to Patents and has shown its colours very clearly by all its MEP’s voting for “Software Patents”.
    The Government including that figurehead of Lord Sainsbury showed it cared little for UK business in ammending articles in the EU which tried to make it easier to patent all things under the sun !.
    The larger companies would like to have it easier to put more small businesses out of action.
    I don’t think this Government can be trusted or should be trusted according to its past record.