FAST continues to press government to amend Consumer Rights Bill | FAST

FAST continues to press government to amend Consumer Rights Bill

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Meeting of software legal experts help in Westminster discusses key changes in the IP landscape

FLAG, the Federation Against Software Theft’s (FAST) Legal Advisory Group, held its second meeting of 2014 last night to examine and debate the latest movements in the Intellectual Property landscape. A range of subjects were discussed at the event, hosted by Lord Clement-Jones, but crucial amongst them was the need for changes to the Consumer Rights Bill, currently at report stage in the House of Commons.

Julian Heathcote Hobbins, General Counsel of FAST said:

“Much of the proposed content of the Bill are to be welcomed but the potential negative impact on enforcement powers should not be overlooked. By including an amendment that would require Trading Standards to provide advance written notice prior to inspecting a business premises, the government risks undermining the certainty of Trading Standards powers which are there to ensure a level playing field for traders.”

A further concern is that, outside of whether software is “content” in law, the Bill’s treatment of software does not reflect the reality that complex software is patched over time after the initial release so that it is unlikely to be 100% perfect from day one. Therefore black letter law which states that in effect the software must be 100% does not fit with the way in which software manufacturers support users. For example, bugs may occur in an early version that are dealt with during subsequent version releases. Guidance may help the consumer, but most consumers I expect will wish to rely on what the statute states in black and white.’

Heathcote Hobbins continued:

“The consumer should not be left confused as to their rights and redress. It is important that the law is clear and works in conjunction with how the software experience is delivered.”

Alex Hilton, CEO of FAST and speaking at the event commented:

“The government has been very open in its engagement with the software industry as the Consumer Rights Bill has proceeded through Parliament and we are pleased that this dialogue has continued with a representative from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills that is with us this week. The Bill still has to go through the House of Lords, leaving time for our concerns to be addressed and we look forward to continued dialogue with parliamentarians and the government during these later stages.”

FLAG, established shortly after FAST in 1984, consists of representatives from many of the UK’s leading international legal firms with IP practices. FLAG meets several times a year to receive presentations on pertinent topics and to review legal developments in the software industry.