IP Outreach Research > IP Use and Awareness


Title: UK Intellectual Property Awareness Survey 2006
Author: Robert Pitkethly [Oxford University]

UK Intellectual Property Office

Year: 2007


Subject/Type: IP Knowledge, IP Protection
Focus: Commercialisation, Economic / Financial Impact
Country/Territory: United Kingdom
Objective: To provide an insight into the awareness and use of intellectual property in all sizes of firm and all sectors of industry throughout the UK.
Sample: 1.709 firms of all sizes and in all sectors of UK industry
Methodology: Mail questionnaire

Main Findings

Overall, the following intellectual property rights (IPRs) were either created or owned by firms: patents (9.2%), trademarks (36.2%), copyright (60.5%), database rights (14.4%), and other (12.1%). Larger firms tended to own/create more intellectual property (IP) than their smaller counterparts: while 41.4% of large firms (250+ employees) reported creating/owning patents, just 7.0% of micro-enterprises (0-9 employees), and 16.9% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) reported doing so.

The four top-rated methods to protect IP were: confidentiality agreements (26.9%), followed by copyright (21.9%), secrecy (19.2%), and lead-time over competitors (14.8%).

IP knowledge and understanding varied by industry sector and firm size, with technical sectors and larger firms showing more signs of knowing the right answers to IP-related questions. Larger firms were also found to spend more on obtaining/maintaining IPRs, and were more likely to have been involved in legal disputes related to IPRs.

The larger the firm, the greater the extent of IP management practices; relative to smaller firms, their larger counterparts were more likely to: license in/out, have specific persons/departments responsible for managing IPRs, have attempted to value their IP, have an overall IP policy, provide training in IP issues to their staff, and check for potential infringements.

Larger firms were also the most likely to have sought advice on IPRs. Large companies’ preferred sources of advice on IPRs were external patent/trademark attorneys, external solicitors, and such staff in-house. SMEs relied more on the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Micro-enterprises predominantly turned to solicitors, the UK IPO, and external patent/trademark attorneys. The perceived need for IP advice was highest in technical sectors.

To sum up: the larger a firm, the greater its IP awareness (as measured by IP knowledge/understanding, IP management practices, and awareness/use of IP information/advice). The degree of IP awareness also varies by industry sector, but less noticeably (with “other community social and personal service”, “transport equipment”, and “real estate, renting and other business activity” sectors the most IP aware; and the “hotels and restaurants” sector least IP aware). Given that small companies are generally IP unaware, efforts to promote IP awareness should be concentrated primarily on them.

[Date Added: Aug 18, 2008 ]