Intermediation of intellectual property awareness

This report describes the sources from which, and the routes by which, firms, and especially micro- and small firms, acquire IP awareness. It focuses in particular on the role of non-IP-specialist professional advisers such as accountants and other sources of IP advice.

ACCAresearch report no. 107

Dr Robert Pitkethly
Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre
St Peter’s College, Oxford University


This report reveals how micro-firms and SMEs gain (or do not gain) IP awareness and thus suggests what steps might be taken to help make UK industry more informed about IP. The research also reveals the role that non-specialist advisers, such as accountants and non-IP solicitors, play in mediating and thus increasing IP awareness among micro-firms and SMEs.

The study illuminates an area of the recent UK IP awareness survey which the quantitative data did not explain so clearly; secondly, it provides ideas for potential ways to improve both SME IP awareness and access to expert IP advice, and finally it provides the groundwork for further hypothesis development concerning SMEs’ use of intellectual property rights (IPRs). SMEs can and do make direct connections with sources of expert IP advice. Nonetheless, the reluctance of many SMEs to consider IP efficiently is in large part due not just to lack of effective IP awareness but also to lack of awareness of the value of IP combined with the high initial costs of some forms of IP protection.