Lord Younger: Intellectual Property Enforcement Will Get Tougher

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Minister for Intellectual Property says UK leads the world in IP protection, but there’s always more to do

The UK government will continue to take a hard line on intellectual property (IP) theft, Lord Younger said yesterday, arguing that IP rights are needed to support technological innovation as the cornerstone of the economic recovery.

Lord Younger, minister for Intellectual Property (IP), promised new tools and education to fight IP infringement, speaking at the Houses of Parliament, at an event sponsored by the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST).

“A key priority for the Government is the effective enforcement of IP rights,” Lord Younger said.  “I’m delighted that the UK Government is doing more than ever before across the whole range of issues that affect IP rights, ensuring IP crime is tackled, IP rights are enforceable, and disputes are managed and resolved more efficiently.”

“Education is key,” added Mike Weatherley MP, adviser to the Prime Minister for IP and former European VP for the Motion Picture Licensing Company. “Education must be one of the main priorities and this means educating the public at large; stealing digital intellectual property is the same as stealing physical property. Our country’s economic growth depends on IP. This should be underpinned by fair and reasonable IP law where legislation and enforcement meet to foster growth, protect and deter”.

Battlegrounds

According to the minister, the Intellectual Property Office currently has three aims: the first is to raise awareness of the value of IP in business. The second is to find ways to communicate the importance of IP for the future of the country. The third is to build IP markets and the information infrastructure that they require.

software-pirate“Copyright, trademarks, designs and patents are crucial for innovation, investment and growth, with the UK software industry alone worth over £25 billion,” said Lord Younger.

However, he warned that the information economy was being held back by intellectual property crime – this includes production and sale of counterfeit goods, patent infringement and of course, software piracy. “We must continue to work together, including across country borders, to develop effective services and partnerships to help businesses and rightsholders protect their IP.”

Younger also hailed the success of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), which he launched in September 2013. For example, last week, it emerged that the unit seized two shipping containers in Merseyside, full of counterfeit high-end products.

In eight months, PIPCU (which cost the taxpayer £2.5 million) has made around 18 arrests, mostly targeting people who facilitate “illegal broadcasts” of Premier League matches and sell counterfeit Windows DVDs. “There is evidence that successes such as these are acting as a deterrent for future crime,” said the minister.

PIPCU also helped close down at least 40 websites accused of facilitating copyright infringement, although it did so without obtaining a single court order.

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