IP Crime

Having just finished jury service, I thought I might say a word on IP crime. This is area of law that I don’t practise but it is one that my tenant, Lois Cole-Wilson, does.

States that are members of the World Trade Organization are required by art 61 of TRIPs to provide for criminal procedures and penalties to be applied at least in cases of wilful trade mark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale. Remedies must include imprisonment and fines sufficient to provide a deterrent, consistently with the level of penalties applied for crimes of a corresponding gravity. In appropriate cases, remedies are to include the seizure, forfeiture and destruction of the infringing goods and of any materials and implements the predominant use of which has been in the commission of the offence. Members may, but are not bound, to provide for criminal procedures and penalties to be applied in other cases of infringement of intellectual property rights, in particular where they are committed wilfully and on a commercial scale.

On 30 Jan 2003, the EC Commission proposed criminalizing all serious IPR infringements in a directive on measures and procedures to ensure the enforcement of intellectual property rights but that was opposed by various member states, including the UK, and did not appear in the legislation actually adopted (Directive 2004/48/EC). Not to be deterred, the Commission has reintroduced the possibility again in a proposal for a directive on criminal measures aimed at
ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rights
(see “Porridge for Patent Infringement?” 22 Aug 2005). This proposal does not appear to enjoy anything like universal support (see “Porridge for Patent Infringement No 2” 19 Oct 2005).


The DTI’s Innovation Report “Competing in the Global Economy: The Innovation Challenge” proposed greater co-ordination between the Patent Office, police, local authorities and others in combating counterfeiting and piracy with the result that an IP Crime Group has established which has published a National IP Crime Strategy.

One of the the things that appears to have resulted from the strategy is a useful list of IP offences on the Patent Office website “At a Glance ‘Guide to Offences’“. These are enforced primarily by local authority trading standards officers who by and large do not have enormous resources. Further information on the topic is at Trading Standards Central.

Anyone wanting to learn more of this subject should call Lois on +44 (07901) 835701 or email her on Loisekcw@aol.com

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About Jane Lambert

I am a barrister specializing in intellectual property, technology, media and entertainment and competition law. I specialize in helping SME (small and medium enterprises) protect and exploit their investment in brands, design, technology and the arts. SME require intellectual property (legal protection for their intellectual assets) at least as much as big business but their limited means restrict the way they can use it. Looking after such clients wisely requires skills and knowledge which have taken me years to learn.
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