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Reviewed 17 December 2008

Research finds UK business is complacent to IP crime

New research commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office's IP Crime Group shows that many businesses are not doing anything to ensure they protect their intellectual property. This is despite an overwhelming majority of businesses understanding the need to protect intellectual property.

Intellectual property is at the heart of so many businesses. It needs to be understood, protected, and respected - both that which belongs to the company and the IP of others. It is therefore worrying that the research showed that:

  • 40% of businesses surveyed took no practical action such as trade mark registration or employee training to ensure their and others IP is protected.
  • A third of businesses surveyed were not aware whether goods sold on their premises by external traders were legitimate or not.
  • Out of those who knew that employees were selling DVDs at work, nearly a fifth knew that these were counterfeit and still allowed such illegal activity to take place.
  • Similarly, over a quarter of respondents do not make staff aware that they must not download illegal content at work.

The research also uncovered a worrying trend amongst managers to pass on responsibility in this area. Nearly 30% of those who said they wouldn't prevent employees / colleagues from buying counterfeit goods at work took no action because they said it was not their responsibility to do so.

Commenting Deputy Chief Constable Giles York, Chair of the IP Crime Group and ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) Lead Officer for IP Crime said:

"It is clear from this survey that many directors and managers are unaware of the damaging effect IP theft can have on their companies and themselves personally. Companies are aware of their duty to abide by other laws while at work for example, Health and Safety. We need to raise concern to approach to IP law with the same stringency."

Director of Copyright and IP Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, Ed Quilty commented:

"Intellectual property is central to the UK economy and therefore businesses of all sizes cannot afford to be complacent in respecting its value - ensuring effective measures are in place to prevent workplace IP crime are an important part of this. I am pleased that the IP Crime Group will take a leading role in highlighting this problem as part of their work."

Notes to Editors

  • The UK IP Crime Strategy was launched in 2004 which sought to provide a collaborative approach in the fight against IP crime. A key part of the strategy was the creation of an IP Crime Group - bringing together, for the first time, Government, enforcement agencies and industry to coordinate activity. Part of the Group’s role is to identify key IP crime issues, raise awareness and disseminate best practice.
  • Enforcement agencies have a key role to play with 45% of respondents stating that they would go to Trading Standards services for advice about IP legislation. The survey identified the following ways in which TS can assist:
  • Visits to industrial parks to encourage companies to call TS on an emergency number when traders turn up
  • Run a 'fake free' campaign which can generate a lot of local publicity
  • Raise the issue at local pub watch meetings to make landlords aware that they should not turn a blind eye and should contact TS
  • Brief Community Support Officers to look out for such products being sold given their close relationship to the local community
  • Consider taking Fast Track prosecutions so all stakeholders can see results of activity in action.
  • The employment research was carried out by ICM External Link who interviewed a random sample of over 1000 working adults (including those at management level) via an online survey. The sample included both private and public sector organisations and included small, medium and large enterprises. The enforcement research took place with 27 trading standards officers, representing a range of different authorities across England and Wales.
  • The research can be viewed on the Intellectual Property Office's website.
  • For enquiries about the Intellectual Property Office press or media activities please contact James Thomson on 020 7596 6547 or Dave Hopkins on 01633 814041.
Date of release: 17 December 2009

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