Mandelson dismisses attempt to criminalise IP infringement

The IP debate has gathered pace this week as inventor Trevor Baylis, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and now Innovation Minister David Lammy and designer Sebastian Conran have spoken out on the issue.

Baylis wrote to Lord Mandelson earlier this week calling for infringement of patent rights to become a criminal offence.

In response, Mandelson, says that he recognises the contribution inventors and innovators make to the economy and believes it is ‘vital’ to protect their interests.

But in a statement which appears to dismiss Baylis’ appeal, Mandelson also says, ‘Patents, however, are very different from trademarks, where infringements can mean criminal prosecution. Issues concerning patents are best dealt with in the civil courts.’

Baylis has highlighted the fact that, while a criminal act brings litigation, patent infringement currently means a wronged party has to pay to take the accused to court. He has been calling for co-ordinated action from the Government, the British Standards Institution and the Design Council on IP infringement.

Conran, meanwhile, says, ‘It is theft and should be treated as such by the Serious Fraud Office, if there is a clear case of fraud infringing the patent. The current system is simply not fit for purpose.

‘It’s good to get different viewpoints, but matters like this should be down to one body.’

Yesterday David Lammy, UK minister of state for intellectual property, addressed the Motion Picture Association of America in Washington, in a bid to promote transatlantic co-operation on the issue.

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