IPO Consultation - Business to Business Collaboration Agreements

Manchester Central Library
Author Mike Peel
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Jane Lambert

On 23 Jan 2017, the government published its green paper Building Our Industrial Strategy which I discussed in "Harnessing the Potential of the UK's Home Grown Inventors" - The Government's Proposed Industrial Strategy on 24 Jan 2017 in NIPC Invention.  One of its proposals was "reviewing how to maximise the incentives created by the Intellectual Property system to stimulate collaborative innovation and licensing opportunities – including considering the opening up of registries to facilitate licensing deals and business-to-business model agreements to support collaboration."

On 11 Oct 2017, the Intellectual Property Office published a consultation document entitled Industrial Strategy: Intellectual Property Call for Views.   I blogged about it "What can we do to encourage innovators to do more collaboration and commercialisation, to stimulate knowledge exchange and promote follow-on innovation?" Answers on an Email to the IPO by 15 Nov 2017 13 Oct 2017 NIPC Invention. The consultation paper offered a number of suggestions one of which was publishing model B2B licence agreements on the lines of the Lambert agreements in which I played a very small role in developing 15 years ago.  According to the Industrial Strategy: Intellectual Property Call for Views Government response "respondents were supportive of the development of a Business to Business toolkit to help to facilitate business collaborations, along the lines of the Lambert Agreements."

The IPO resolved to take this matter forward and has chaired round table discussions in  London, Birmingham and Manchester the last of which took place in Manchester Central Library earlier today. I was there together with representatives of the IPO, Manchester Business and IP Centre and several other organizations and interest groups. Attendees addressed the following agenda:
  • The current situation - examples, evidence, case studies and best practice;
  • Identifying gaps - needs, where we can add value, and
  • What will be the benefits of B2B, what are we aiming for, and how will we measure outputs and outcomes?
  • Formation of a Working Group – providing input to the process going forward.
I thought the meeting went very well and I learned a lot from the discussion.  The IPO representatives seemed to be pleased with the outcome. Obviously there was a limit to what could be achieved in the time available but I think that that time was well spent. Should a working group be formed I have offered to serve on it.

The value of Lambert is that it focuses minds on what needs to be in a collaboration agreement. The agreements do not dispense with the need for specialist professional advice but they help the parties use that advice more effectively and probably, also, considerably more economically. Much of the work and experience gained from the Lambert took-kit can be applied directly to business-to-business transactions.  There is not a whole lot of difference between design and testing services carried out by a university department or a private sector consultancy.

In the course of my practice and pro bono work I will endeavour to find out what businesses need and communicate what I learn to the working group. Through this and other blogs I will communicate ideas that are worth sharing.   Should anyone wish to discuss this article he or she should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office houses or send me a message through my contact form.

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