The Intellectual Property Regulation Board, IPReg, is undertaking a wide-ranging review of its regulatory arrangements. In December 2021 it published a consultation paper outlining its proposed changes and inviting stakeholder views.
IP Inclusive’s response, submitted on 11 March 2022, is available here. It was prepared in consultation with our six communities and included comments on issues specifically affecting the groups they represent. More generally, we said that we:
- Support the proposed reliance on high-level regulatory principles wherever possible, in preference to prescriptive rules. We believe the new arrangements provide a flexibility that will help patent and trade mark professionals, and their businesses, to innovate and adapt in response to changes in the commercial landscape. This will encourage a greater diversity of business models, allow the two professions to serve a wider range of clients, and in turn increase the resilience of individual businesses and of the professions as a whole. Above all, it should help regulated businesses not only to accommodate, but also to nurture, a diverse and inclusive workforce.
- Are pleased to see this approach extended to the proposed arrangements for continuing professional development (CPD) and for the acquisition of litigation skills. We believe such changes will help remove barriers to entry into, and in particular to progression within, the UK’s patent and trade mark professions, again helping diversity and inclusivity to flourish.
- Believe that IPReg’s openness to future changes, and to exploring new business models through for example the proposed “regulatory sandboxes”, will encourage inclusivity for a wider range of views and approaches. This too will help nurture diversity in the professions, as will allowing more flexibility in the constitution of multidisciplinary practices (MDPs).
- Are encouraged to see that a detailed impact assessment underlies and informs the proposed regulatory changes, and in particular that the assessment takes account of effects on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the regulated sector.
- Are also pleased to see the use of clear and inclusive – in particular gender-neutral – language throughout the consultation paper and proposed regulatory arrangements. This contributes to the accessibility and inclusivity of the patent and trade mark professions, which in turn makes it possible to achieve, and sustain, greater diversity. As the IP-specific regulator, IPReg’s communications reflect the type of sector we want to belong to and can positively influence the attitudes and behaviours of those working in it.
We welcomed IPReg’s commitment (in section 18 of the consultation paper) to “continue to work with a wide range of stakeholders to improve diversity and inclusion in the IP sector”. IP Inclusive, we said, “stands ready to help”.