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Second Reading for Copyright & Trade Marks Bill

17 March 2000

"Government to Crackdown on Counterfeiters" Predicts Industry

The Government is expected to support a crackdown on counterfeiters in the wake of today's second reading of the Copyright and Trade Marks Bill in the House of Lords.

The cross-industry Alliance Against Counterfeiting and Piracy - which represents companies with a combined turnover of £158 billion - believes that the government is ready to adopt as its own a number of the proposals in Lord McNally's private members bill. The result could see measures such as increased sentences for copyright theft introduced into law as early as the Autumn.

The bill will provide the legal tools that industry and trading standards need to fight the growing menace of bootlegged, copied and fake goods. These include an increase in sentences for copyright theft from two years to seven years, to bring the offence into line with physical theft. It also includes measures to crackdown on illegal traders at car boot sales and to prevent defendants abusing legal aid to string out unnecessariy copyright and trade mark cases.

Lavinia Carey, Chair of the Alliance, said:

"The public are being put at risk as many fake goods are potentially dangerous. There have been cases of fake medicines and car parts being sold and supposedly non-flammable children's toys being engulfed in flames within 90 seconds when tested.

"The measures in Lord McNally's bill will help give the advantage back to the police, customs and trading standards in their war against the fakers and bootleggers. We welcome this bill and urge the government to give it full support."

Lord McNally said:

"I am seeking today to protect the creativity in British industry. Creativity will be the currency of the new century, the factor that will make Britain's economy more successful than our competitors'. The theft of ideas is as serious as other forms of theft and my bill seeks to change the law to recognise this."

The Government has already begun pre-legislative consultation with industry on how to crackdown on copyright and trade mark offences. Concerns at government level have grown since a survey of Alliance members in the summer of last year showed that counterfeiting and piracy was costing British business £6.42 billion per year. The cost to taxpayers in lost tax revenue was £1.08 billion annually.

For information about joining the Alliance please contact
Susie Winter at susie@allianceagainstiptheft.co.uk
or on 020 7534 0595