A law that saw the introduction of a criminal offence and possible 10-year prison sentence for the infringement of a registered design could be extended to unregistered designs, the UK’s Intellectual Property Office has suggested.
In its annual IP Crime Report, published on 27 September, the IPO said fewer cases of design infringement had been reported since the Intellectual Property Act was introduced in 2014.
‘If this is true, extending criminal provisions to cover unregistered designs may also have a significant, positive impact,’ the report added.
The 2014 act was introduced after a report by Professor Ian Hargreaves in 2011 said the UK’s IP regime needed updating.
The latest IP crime report, which gave details about IP crime and enforcement across the UK, also showed that during a three-month period last year 28% of 2,060 adults questioned for a survey admitted that their music downloads came from illegal sources.
Similarly, 23% of films, 22% of software, 16% of TV shows and 15% of video games were also downloaded in breach of copyright, the report found.
According to the Ministry of Justice, 490 people were found guilty of offences under the Trade Marks Act and 69 under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act during 2015, a slight increase compared with, respectively, 456 and 61 in 2014.
Despite the slight rise in figures, the report said cooperation between companies and agencies was increasing.
‘For example, the British Phonographic Industry submitted 100 million URLS to Google and Bing for removal. The Police IP Crime Unit, since its launch, has overseen 79 investigations, arrested 69 individuals for fraud, copyright, counterfeiting and cyber-enabled offences,’ the report said.
Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, the IP minister said: ‘There is no doubt that our rights holders face relentless infringement on an enormous scale. However, it is also a fact that we are responding to this threat in ever-more collaborative and co-ordinated ways’.