Lord Younger took up the role of Minister for IP in January. The Patent Lawyer hears how his first year is going.
1. What role has intellectual property played in your working life to date?
My background and training has been primarily in personnel management and human resources. Over nearly 30 years, I’ve been involved in a very broad range of challenging projects and issues both in the City and beyond including handling recruitment, retention and redundancy, HR change programs, managing annual appraisal schemes, employee relations and giving advice on employment law, a field which has become fast changing and much more complex in recent years. Intellectual property is a concept that I am familiar with – and not just because it needs to be part of a company’s thinking on employment – but I admit that the technicalities of copyright, trademarks and patents were still relatively unfamiliar to me when I took up the IP brief. I have found it genuinely interesting to delve into the detail and the history leading up to the Hargreaves Review with its recommendations prior to becoming immersed in parliamentary scrutiny in the House of Lords. I continue to learn and I believe my management background provides a good base from which to do so. Of course, outside of work, I’m also a daily user of IP. I’m a big film fan and love Rock music from the 70’s and 80’s, particularly Genesis and Supertramp.
2. How do you think management attitudes to the value of intellectual property have changed since you started your career?
I think we can divide the answer to cover major corporations or institutions, and SMEs and microbusinesses. Since the early eighties, when I first started work, I’ve seen major strides forward in the focus and resources that major organizations now place on optimizing their intellectual property assets and managing their rights. That’s been most obvious in FTSE companies, more especially the pharmaceutical sector, where significant funds are devoted to managing IP with the realization that a failure to do so properly could easily directly impact future product lines and “the bottom line”. I’ve been pleased to see that both the legal advisory sector in IP and the accountancy profession more generally have also developed to help client businesses understand and exploit their IP effectively. Request a free trial to read more.