IPAN collaborated in running this event with UCL Institute of Brand & Innovation Law (IBIL) and IP Pro Bono.  In person attendance was by ticket but online participation by live stream was free.

Topic background

According to a recent publication from the UK Intellectual Property Office, UK businesses are among the most innovative in the world, with small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) accounting for over 99% of all UK businesses, and around 50% of all private sector employment and turnover. Unsurprisingly, therefore, SMEs are often heralded as ‘the lifeblood of our economy’ and ‘the engine room for economic growth’.  However, the recent UK Innovation Strategy notes that while ‘the UK’s system of institutions is well established, businesses are not always aware of what support is available or most suitable for them. To ensure that businesses can innovate, embrace global opportunities and respond to emerging challenges in a coherent way, businesses need an easily navigated, agile and responsive innovation system that delivers the right support at the right time.’

Intellectual property (IP) is the result of creative and innovative activity. Securing appropriate IP protection and then policing these rights can be vital to ensure that an SME is able to realise its full commercial potential in a competitive market. On the other hand, IP may also be used against SMEs who may, especially in their early stages, be ill-equipped to understand the system and unable to afford the cost of defending their position. There is no shortage of organisations on hand to offer SMEs (often free) support, including advice on how to identify, protect and enforce these rights. But is the help on offer well-matched to what small businesses actually want and need, and are the institutions granting and enforcing such rights properly attuned to the needs of SMEs and individuals?

Event details

Welcome: The Rt Hon Prof. Sir Robin Jacob, Sir Hugh Laddie Professor of Intellectual Property Law, Director of the Institute of Brand and Innovation Law

Chair: Stephen Jones, IPAN Vice Chair, IP Pro Bono Chair and CIPA Past President


  • The Rt Hon Sir Colin Birss, Lord Justice of Appeal and Deputy Head of Civil Justice
  • Neil Sharpley, Federation of Small Businesses
  • Nick Dunmur, Association of Photographers


  • District Judge Charlotte Hart, Small Claims Track, Intellectual Property Enterprise Court
  • Michael Silverleaf QC, barrister
  • Lee Davies, CEO, Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys
  • Mandy Haberman, IPAN Board Member and entrepreneur
  • Matthew Cope, Deputy Director of IP Enforcement, UK Intellectual Property Office

Event video