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 12:00 pm on 30th January 2014.

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Photo of David Willetts David Willetts Minister of State (Universities and Science) 12:00 pm, 30th January 2014

I do not completely follow the right hon. Gentleman’s argument. Theft is an economic crime, and we are talking about a type of theft. In many areas of criminal activity, having intention is a part of the criminal law. That is simply what we are trying to provide for in the Bill. Although I do not want to repeat myself, I think we have got the balance about right.

I will try to cover briskly, if I can, the comments made by the hon. Member for Hartlepool. He talked a little about the amendments he has tabled, which would introduce the concept of constructive knowledge or intention. We believe that culpable criminal behaviour of the sort he referred to is already adequately covered by the clause. He is worried that businesses would be pulling their products from the stores and that shops would be removing stock for fear of falling foul of criminal sanctions. That is why—this is also relevant to the intervention of the right hon. Member for Tottenham—clause 13 makes it clear that the criminal offence will apply only to businesses that knowingly use a copied design in the course of business activities to profit from that copying. If the business did not know that the design was copied, the offence would not apply. That is how we tackle the Opposition spokesman’s concern that there will somehow be a chilling effect on innovation—by saying that there has to be an intention. In turn, that is what the right hon. Member for Tottenham, from his alternative angle, disagrees with.