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Businesses urged to protect themselves against intellectual property theft

7th May 2007

Alliance calls on all businesses to adopt IP Compliance Policies

With more and more theft of intellectual property taking place in the work place, businesses are increasingly at risk with: 

  • Confidential commercial information available to hackers
  • Computer systems open to viruses and other attacks. 
  • Company directors running the risk of damaging legal action as IP theft is against the law. 

Launching a leaflet providing guidance for businesses on how to reduce these risks, the Alliance is urging businesses to protect themselves by adopting proper intellectual property (IP) compliance policies.  Companies are also being urged to run regular checks to ensure their systems are not running illegal or unlicensed programs.

IP theft can occur in businesses when software, DVDs, CDs or written material such as books and journals, are illegally copied or used without the permission of the rights owner. For example, this could include putting software onto more computers than the license allows, or allowing employees to access illegal file sharing sites from their work PCs.

Illegal filesharing can seriously affect the integrity of companies’ networks. Hackers can access confidential commercial information and computer systems can become open to viruses such as spyware and malware including viruses that can bypass firewalls.

In addition, by failing to respect intellectual property, company directors can face fines of up to £5,000 in a Magistrates’ Court and up to six months in prison, or unlimited fines and up to 10 years in prison at Crown Court.

Estate agent Des Res has recently brought in new Internet usage procedures and tighter security after Alliance member The Federation Against Software Theft discovered illegal software was being made available from its computer system.

A surveillance operation revealed that one of the company’s computers had been involved in a file-sharing network making copies of FAST member TomTom’s software available for free download.

Susie Winter, Director General of the Alliance, said: “We are working alongside business organisations to ensure that companies large and small understand the importance of respecting intellectual property.

“By having a clear staff policy in place which prevents infringement of intellectual property, companies can protect themselves without placing undue restrictions on their workers.”

John Lovelock, Director General of The Federation Against Software Theft, said: “By working with industry, we hope to raise awareness of the importance of intellectual property and why it must be properly protected.

“It is to be applauded that companies like Des Res are setting an example by rooting out and dealing with IP cheats in the workplace.”

To download a sample IP compliance policy, please go to www.allianceagainstiptheft.co.uk/ac_dir.htm

Note to editors:

1. The Alliance Against IP Theft was set up in 1998 as a coalition of trade and enforcement organisations from the creative and manufacturing industries.  It represents businesses that have a combined turnover of more than £250 billion, employing over one million people in the UK.  It seeks to strengthen and bring consistency to existing laws in the area of intellectual property to ensure people's ideas and creativity is properly valued and protected.

2. An ICM survey of company directors found 82 per cent of directors were “very concerned” about virus infections, hacking or other breaches on their network as a result of staff illegally downloading or file sharing. 78 per cent of respondents were “very concerned” about staff wasting their time through downloading or filesharing copyright material while at work.

For further information, please call Matthew Willey on 020 7618 9100

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