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The government says UK businesses will be able to better protect their intellectual property rights in the UK and abroad, as a result of the Intellectual Property Act becoming law this week.

The government says UK businesses will be able to better protect their intellectual property rights in the UK and abroad, as a result of the Intellectual Property Act becoming law this week.

A key part of the Intellectual Property Act is the creation of new powers for the UK to implement the Unified Patent Court Agreement. This is a central part of introducing a single patent across almost all EU countries, which the government says could lead to savings of "up to £40 million per year" for UK businesses.

The Intellectual Property Act also provides new protections for designers, as well as removing red tape and some of the uncertainties for businesses when protecting their designs. It will also introduce a number of online services to help businesses better manage their intellectual property.

Minister for intellectual property Lord Younger said, "Continued investment in intellectual property is vital to all businesses, as it contributes £16 billion to the UK economy each year.

"It is essential that we continue to work hard to create the right environment for them to flourish so we can benefit from their creative designs, inventions and ideas."

Key policies that will be implemented include providing new protections for pre-publication research to ensure the UK’s universities and the research sector remain world-leaders, and the introduction of a criminal sanction for intentionally copying registered designs.

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There are also measures to help businesses assess the strength of their IP case before going through formal and costly legal proceedings, with the creation of a "design opinions service".

The UK Intellectual Property Office will also now be able to share information on unpublished patent applications with other national patent offices. This will help clear application backlogs internationally

It is expected that the new measures will come into force from October 2014, with all measures implemented by late 2015, said the government.