Intellectual property (IP) is one of the most hotly-contested topics of the 3D printing world, as designers and makers are divided between protecting their work and going fully open source.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills unveiled its new report yesterday (June 11th), the first day of the International IP Enforcement Summit.
Opening the conference, Business Secretary Vince Cable highlighted the importance of IP-rich industries to the UK economy and explained that improved collaborative efforts with industry and across borders would be a key theme of the summit on how to strengthen the fight against IP crime.
New figures revealed the extent of IP crime activity and how the UK has tackled wrongdoing. Indeed, 72 million links to infringing digital material were removed by the British Phonographic Industry in 2013 - which is up from just 10 million removed in 2012, while the specialist City of London IP Crime Unit has investigated nearly £30 million in IP crime in its first nine months.
IP Minister Lord Younger said: "The value of IP to the economy is unquestionable. The UK invests much more in knowledge and ideas than it does in assets such as buildings and machinery, and IP-intensive industries account for a third of all jobs in the EU. The Government is committed to supporting these industries and making sure that intellectual property rights are understood and respected. Working together is the best way to tackle this issue.
"The UK is a centre of excellence for intellectual property-rich companies and it is vital that we create the confidence for UK firms to grow overseas. Collaboration and partnership are key to that. The UK and China are working ever more closely to reduce the impact of IP crime."
Recent initiatives have built in UK agencies' ability to work along with counterparts in China. Intellectual Property Office (IPO), National Crime Agency and HMRC representatives have assisted with the training of IP enforcement officers in China, and shared technical understanding of both countries' respective IP systems are now exchanging intelligence.
This partnership has supported the UK and China's work together to identify and arrest IP criminals operating between both countries.
The IP summit, which concludes today, is hosted jointly by the IPO and Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market and provides the chance for more than 300 delegates from around the world to discuss what best practices to uphold and to collaborate in order to strengthen the way IP is addressed internationally. Delegates considered how to tackle the challenges faces in the digital sphere, both through illegal downloading and emerging technologies, with the Department citing 3D printing as an area that needs attention.