Act increases penalties for copyright and trade mark offences

Out-Law News | 25 Jul 2002 | 12:00 am |

The Copyright, Etc. and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Act was due to receive Royal Assent yesterday. The new law amends the criminal provisions in UK intellectual property law, increasing, among other matters, the penalties for software piracy.

The Act amends provisions in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 and the Trade Marks Act of 1994. It aims to update and rationalise these laws and to “reflect the seriousness” of the crimes they cover.

The new Act raises the maximum penalty for the offences of sale or hire or dealing in material infringing copyright, illicit recordings infringing performers’ rights and unauthorised decoders for conditional access services to 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine. Previously, the maximum penalty was 2 years in prison. This change brings the maximum penalty into line with that for similar trade mark offences.

The Act also amends the provisions regarding police search and seizure powers, allowing police to obtain warrants for all the above offences.

Finally, it applies to the copyright, designs and patents law the forfeiture provisions of the Trade Marks Act.

The new law will not make any changes to the scope of the offences, so that the type of behaviour that gives rise to an offence remains the same. The Act will come into force by order of the Secretary of State.

The new Act has still to be published, but the Copyright, Etc. and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Bill can be downloaded