FAST broadly supports IP Enforcement 2020… | FAST

FAST broadly supports IP Enforcement 2020…

17th May, 2016

But there are misgivings – not least the Report’s singular failure to recognise software sector’s needs


The ‘Protecting creativity, supporting innovation: IP enforcement 2020’ Report from the Intellectual Property Office, launched last week is a welcome development in the fight against online crime. However there are some questions over its focus and lack of vision for the software sector, according to the Federation Against Software Theft.

According to the Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolf: “Intellectual property rights underpin investment in research and manufacturing, reward innovation in design and branding, and support creativity of all types.  As a country famed for its creators and innovators, we know that these intellectual property rights lie at the heart of the economic and creative wellbeing of the UK.”

The IP enforcement 2020 report details three core pledges made by the incoming Conservative Government in 2015:

  • To make Britain the best place in Europe to innovate, patent new ideas and set up and expand a business
  • To protect intellectual property by continuing to require internet service providers to block sites that carry large amounts of illegal content, including their proxies
  • Build on the progress made under its voluntary anti-piracy projects to warn internet users when they are breaching copyright and work to ensure that search engines do not link to the worst-offending sites

Alex Hilton, CEO, FAST, stated: “One key fact stands out from this - that IP is a key enabler in the digitisation of businesses and organisations throughout the country and the economy. All IP rights – from patents, designs, trademarks and copyright – are supporting the rise of digital technologies and the revolution in information sharing we see on a daily basis.  But this Report is lacking in that it fails to recognise the software sector needs given its references to what the content industry wants in terms of infringement control. Is this is a missed opportunity to recognise the vital role of the UK domestic software sector and its impact on Creative Britain? After all the digital technology economy is estimated to be worth 1.56m jobs with a turnover of £161bn according to the Tech Nation 2016 report from Tech City.”

“The Report itself focuses on the IPO’s goals, which include a number of initiatives. This is very clearly the Government’s updated strategy on IP enforcement – one that will guide policy making up to 2020 - and we are pleased to see that it is totally committed to reducing the level of illegal content online,” added Alex.

“But we have some serious concerns with this Report – not least is the lack of guidance on the IPO’s thinking on how to rectify the lack of appropriate deterrent infringement damages as a result of use of software without licence. This was a problem acknowledged openly by a Ministry of Justice Report in 2009 into the Law on Damages and remains an unresolved issue. Further there is no news on the consideration of sentencing guidelines, which assist in setting sanctions for IP criminal offences. Is there an issue here on joined up Government Department thinking?” added Alex.

“However the commitment from the IPO is vital for FAST ensuring that we can continue to play a key role in ensuring that there is an effective enforcement regime to deter infringers of software IP rights. We are delighted to see that the IPO has stated that its aim is to ensure that there are “proportionate mechanisms in place which tackle infringement and allow disputes to be resolved”. Furthermore, its continued support for the Police IP Crime Unit (PIPCU) based in the City of London Police is really welcome, given the work that it has been doing since its inception in following the money to catch and deter IP criminals.”

“FAST was established to help software publishers not only understand IP, but help enforce it.  Since then we have evolved, working with the industry – now a vital component of UK Plc – to help them better manage and derive real value from their IP.  Working with a number of partners – such as NatWest, Inngot and others – we are about to undertake a four city Roadshow to educate business on this issue,” he continued. “We fully support the initiative being taken by the UK IPO and will play our own part in shaping its execution.”