UCL Faculty of Laws


Can the IP System Serve Small Businesses Better?

23 February 2022, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

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A joint event by the UCL Institute of Brand & Innovation Law (IBIL), the IP Awareness Network (IPAN) and IP Pro Bono

Event Information

Open to



UCL Laws Events


UCL Laws
Bentham House, Endsleigh Gardens

About this event

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?

At this event, we bring the parties together. After a keynote speech from a senior member of the IP judiciary, we will hear from representatives of the SME sector, and our expert panel will then brainstorm the ways in which the IP system might serve the needs of creative and innovative small businesses better.  

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
  • Isabelle Doran, CEO, Association of Photographers


  • HH 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
  • Miles Rees, Head of Enforcement Outreach & Stakeholder Engagement, UK Intellectual Property Office

Read Sir Colin Birss's speech on the Courts and Tribunals Website

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About the organisers

The Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN) is a unique, independent network of organizations and individuals committed to improving awareness and understanding of intellectual property (IP) and its impact on business in the UK.


IP Pro bono logo
IP Pro Bono is the collaboration of a number of leading IP organisations, including: the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the Intellectual Property Lawyers’ Association, the IP Bar and the Law Society. It provides intellectual property advice and legal support for individuals and small businesses who find themselves involved in intellectual property disputes, who could not otherwise afford to meet the costs of professional representation.

UCL Institute of Brand & Innovation Law logo
The Institute of Brand and Innovation Law (IBIL) is an IP law focused research centre which is based at University College London’s Faculty of Laws. It not only undertakes first class academic, but also pays attention to the law’s practical application and to the interests of IP practitioners and other stakeholders in this field. The Institute’s popular programme of regular events create opportunities for dialogue which combine critical analysis with practical relevance, and build bridges between academics, practitioners, industry, the judiciary, policy makers and the student community worldwide.



If you have any queries about this event please contact Lisa Penfold - lisa.penfold@ucl.ac.uk