Clause 13 - Offence of unauthorised copying etc. of design in course of business

Part of Intellectual Property Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 30th January 2014.

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Photo of David Willetts David Willetts Minister of State (Universities and Science) 11:45 am, 30th January 2014

We will come to this matter when we debate the new clauses. The trouble is that proving intent is so much harder when it comes to unregistered designs, because people do not have access to clear information about what the IP is, so we are wary of trying to introduce the concepts to unregistered designs as well as to registered ones. However, we will debate that issue when we come to amendment 31, when my hon. Friend may wish to intervene again.

Amendments 25 and 28 would introduce the concept of constructive knowledge or intention, which would effectively require a court to conclude that a defendant had paid no regard to the probability or possibility of harmful consequences in conducting a course of action. Culpable criminal behaviour of that sort is already adequately covered by the clause. Knowing or having reason to believe that the design is registered—that is, owned by another person—is already a feature of the offence. Amendments 25 and 28 would therefore add an extra, unnecessary layer of complexity to the clause, which we fear would make the offence unworkable in the courts and highly uncertain for design businesses.

The Government amendments will clarify the purpose of the clause, reflecting the concerns that industry has put to us. We understand that the Opposition are also trying to tackle those concerns, but we believe that our proposals, which draw on well recognised terminology in IP law, provide the best way of doing that. I therefore hope the Committee will support our amendments and that the hon. Member for Hartlepool will not press his.