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Factsheet for measure GB-2011-1/2667 – measures in United Kingdom

Intellectual Property Attaché Network

Intellectual Property Attaché Network

Country United Kingdom , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 January 2011
Context Restructuring Support Instruments
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Reorientation of business activities
– Change of production/Innovation
Author Claire Evans (Warwick University) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 June 2022 (updated 05 January 2023)

Background information

The Intellectual Property (IP) Attaché Network supports SMEs and micro businesses as defined by the European Union because these companies often lack the capacity and expertise to deal with IP related issues, while IP is highly important to them. According to government data (2014), 80% of the organisations engaged with the IP Attaché are SMEs and the remaining 20% comprises large companies.

The network was first introduced in 2011 when the UK government called for a new support instrument to help UK businesses go overseas in these four emerging markets.

Content of measure

All companies based in the UK can approach the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) by writing an email or calling the members of staff. There is no application form or joining fee, all services are free of charge.

Companies which meet the following criteria will be eligible to be a member of the IP Attaché and gain full support from IPO:

  • The company is based in the UK
  • The company trades abroad in China, India, Latin America, South East Asia and the US

The network can also provide support to foreign companies doing business in the UK who require legal advice in IP.

The Intellectual Property Attaché Network consists of IP experts who provide IP expertise to companies wishing to internationalise. The programme is delivered by the IPO team based in London and by IPO advisers based overseas, including China, India, Latin America, the US and South East Asia. Additionally, IPO regularly organises seminars, workshops and meeting events for businesses and local authorities.

Even though IP Attaché is a part of a government-backed programme, it is fully funded by the IPO. The annual budget is about GBP 1 million (€1.1 million as at 13 June 2020) and is generated from the money gained from trademarks and patents registered in the UK.

Use of measure

Between 2012 and 2019, IPO attachés gave one-to-one direct support to nearly 2,000 UK businesses on individual IP issues. They have hosted over 1,000 business outreach and education events. At these, they reached over 31,000 UK exporters operating in overseas markets.

In 2018, the global network of IP attachés dealt with IP cases worth over GBP 115 million (€127 million as of 13 June 2020) in potential lost revenue.

Furthermore, the programme ensures a systematic linkage between the UK and foreign hubs in the target markets, including regular monitoring and connections with different support providers such as the UK Department for International Trade (DIT), Chambers of Commerce, Business Associations and host governments. This enables businesses to have updated information regarding IP issues in their target markets and respond more quickly to any changes in order to protect their IP.

According to an evaluation conducted in 2014, the IP Attaché teams have limited resources to deal with a high number of requests, from all kinds of businesses. Another weakness of the programme, which is frequently criticised by its stakeholders, is related to the limited geographical scope of the foreign markets that the programme is operating in.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Unknown Unknown
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown



Views and reactions




Eurofound (2022), Intellectual Property Attaché Network, measure GB-2011-1/2667 (measures in United Kingdom), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.