Minister warns Intellectual Property pirates that “the UK is no longer a safe place for you

In a keynote speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) today, UK Minister for Science and Innovation Lord Sainsbury will say that to meet the challenge of Intellectual Property (IP) theft by organised crime groups, the Patent Office has developed the National IP Crime Strategy, which brings together enforcement agencies and industry to tackle IP theft nationally. This in turn has led to the development of TellPat, a national database for recording counterfeiting and piracy activities, which will provide strategic information for spot raids at markets and other venues across the country throughout the year.

Lord Sainsbury said:

“We want to provide in the UK the best possible conditions for business and our communities to innovate and grow. We don’t want Intellectual Property crime to harm society either in lost jobs or poor quality products. And we are determined to stamp this out. The clear message to IP criminals is that the UK is no longer a safe environment for you. Our joint intelligence will lead to more surprise raids, in more locations, and we will take action against all those who are involved.”

The first of a series of raids has already taken place at Wembley market at the end of 2005 which netted more than 1.5 million pounds-worth of counterfeit goods. As a result approximately 34 people are being prosecuted, with intelligence also passed to other agencies for action.

In a paper for IPPR, also published today, Lord Sainsbury describes the strength and importance of the UK’s Intellectual property system in the global economy. The paper also emphasises the importance of a robust IP system which is able to balance the needs of creators and consumers and which creates the right conditions to support genuine innovation.

Lord Sainsbury argues:

“The UK IP system awards an inventor in his garage or the composer in his bedroom as much as a big pharmaceutical company or a superstar. They are awarded the same rights and the same conditions and privileges.”

“The choices the Artic Monkeys made are a case in point. They successfully built up their fan base by giving away their music via the Internet. Having built customer demand, they have now been signed by an independent record label and their debut album has become the fastest selling one in UK chart history, selling 360,000 copies in a week. This is a very novel use of IP – effectively giving away their music to create customer demand and grab the attention of record companies. They could only do this because of the flexibility and robustness within our copyright system.”