Industry Welcomes Government Pledge to Toughen Law Against Pirates and Bootleggers
The Department of Trade and Industry has announced it is opening consultation on copyright and trade mark infringement, with a view to introducing legislation in the near future. However, members of the cross-industry Alliance Against Counterfeiting and Piracy are realistic that much remains to be done before they have the legal armoury required to take on the criminal gangs responsible for £6.4 billion1 of faked goods annually in the UK.
The DTI's announcement of pre-legislative consultation to toughen up anti-counterfeiting laws is the first stage in a process which should end in new laws allowing jail sentences of up to seven years for copyright theft. Speaking at a seminar organised by the DTI, Consumer Affairs Minister Kim Howells confirmed the Government's intention of cracking down on theft of intellectual property, which costs the Exchequer over £1 billion annually2 in lost taxes.
Lavinia Carey, Chair of the Alliance Against Counterfeiting and Piracy3, welcomed the government's announcement. Speaking after the DTI seminar, she said:
"Today's announcement is tremendous news and we congratulate the DTI on recognising the importance to the UK economy of intellectual property.
"Ideas will be the most valuable currency of the next century. Britain is losing literally billions each year to sophisticated criminal gangs who rip off the consumer with fake and often dangerous goods. The existing law is ineffectual and outdated. New legislation to protect ideas is the logical next step in the Government's campaign against rip off Britain."
Lord McNally, who is sponsoring a bill in Parliament with the support of the Alliance, vowed to maintain the pressure until the Government's position became clearer. He plans to introduce his Copyright and Trade Marks Bill in the House of Lords before Christmas. He said:
"I am pleased that the government is proceeding with pre-legislative consultation and I shall be submitting a response myself. However, until I see a firm timetable for legislation from the Government I intend to press ahead with plans to introduce a private members bill in the House of Lords very shortly."
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