U.K. businesses complacent about safety of intellectual property

Published 17 December 2008

A new survey finds that many companies understand the need to protect IP but fail to do anything about it

The U.K. government has accused U.K. businesses of not doing enough to protect their intellectual property. According to new research commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office’s IP crime group, many companies understand the need to protect IP but fail to do anything about it. It found 40 percent of individuals surveyed took no practical action such as trade mark registration or employee training to ensure theirs and others IP was protected.

Register’s Kelly Fiveash writes that the IP crime group interviewed what it described as a “random sample” of more than 1,000 working adults, including those at management level, based in both private and public sector organizations and in businesses of all sizes across England and Wales. It said a third of businesses were clueless over whether goods sold on their premises by external traders were legit or not. The group also found that, out of those individuals who knew that employees were selling DVDs at work, nearly a fifth knew that they were knock-off goods but turned a blind eye to such “illegal activity.”

Meanwhile, more than a quarter of respondents do not warn staff that they mustn’t download “illegal content” at work, according to the research. It found that many managers shirked responsibility to prevent employees and work mates from buying pirated gear.

The report did not say how the UK.gov could effectively change the “complacent” habits that prevail among Blighty businesses when it comes to IP, beyond being a bit shouty about why such inertia is bad for the economy.

Intellectual property is central to the U.K. 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,” said the IP Office’s director of copyright and IP enforcement Ed Quilty.