Jun 21, 2018

UKIPO releases plan to shipwreck pirates

Recently, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has published its plans and strategies to improve services in the enforcement of anti-piracy. Piracy, which is a common term used for copyright infringement, is the unauthorised use or reproduction of another's work.

They have published two documents, one detailing their corporate plan for 2018-2019, and the other outlining the strategy to 2021. Both documents that have been released relate to online copyright enforcement and give information on how their aims will be achieved. They also deal with the broader objective of reducing IP crime and infringement. The UKIPO believes that they can instill in the population the belief that infringement is unacceptable, and achieve this aim by investing in awareness campaigns and leadership initiatives.

The UK has some of the toughest intellectual property legislation in the world as well as rightsholders having multiple options available to them including UKIPO procedures, civil claims and criminal referrals.

In the past the Government have provided funding and resources including the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and their Operation Creative initiative. They have also threatened more legislation in their involvement in disputes between rightsholders and internet intermediaries that cannot reach agreements to avoid piracy.

The UKIPO is primarily a registration body with which trademarks, patents and designs can be registered. They maintain registers of the same available to the public. A secondary function of the UKIPO is as a research body and think-tank on intellectual property issues. Their research has estimated that during March-May 2016, 15% (approximately 6.7 million) of UK internet users aged 12+ consumed at least one item of online content illegally.

Online copyright infringement is a significant problem and the vast majority of infringers go unpunished and continue to infringe others' work. In order to prevent and deter piracy, the UKIPO have announced a two-pronged approach. They aim to make it cheaper and easier for rightsholders to take action to protect their copyrighted work, and to make online piracy socially unacceptable. They hope this will have a knock-on effect for users to be original with their ideas, helping the UK to be the most creative and innovative country in the world.

The IPO Corporate Plan 2018-2019, one of the two documents published, promises to allocate appropriate resources to work towards achieving the Government's enforcement strategy. It is explained that there must be improved knowledge about intellectual property amongst the content-consuming population, and that intellectual property crime and infringement and methods may be effective to change behaviour. The UKIPO have said that it will evaluate its enforcement approach, while continuing to invest in education and intelligence to improve on their ability to lead the field.

As a starting point, the UKIPO will work towards making intellectual property infringement socially unacceptable and gain a better understanding of consumer attitudes of the infringement issues.

Moving forward copyright owners may be more encouraged to use enforcement options against online copyright infringers. The Government is in full support of protecting the work of the rightsholder, which they hope will promote original ideas and a more creative industry in the future.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

in: Copyright, News

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