UKIPO Signals Tougher Penalties For Online Infringement



At the moment the maximum fine that a Magistrate can award for online copyright and trade mark infringement is £5000. The UK-IPO has recently issued a consultation on increasing the level of penalties from £5000 to £50,000. This follows recommendation 36 by the Gowers Report on intellectual property to Government. Whilst ACID welcomes all opportunities to raise awareness about IP theft and improve penalties for online copyright infringement, it still leaves designers out in the cold. There are no criminal sanctions for design right infringement.


Put quite simply, what is the difference in criminality between ripping off an artist (who creates a copyright work) and a furniture designer (who creates a design)? They should both be treated equally as both input tremendous skill and effort into their creations. There exists no deterrent of criminal sanctions for those people who systematically exploit designers work.

As ever, designs fall way down on the Richter scale and are not being treated with parity in terms of the laws that protect them and the penalties they can receive. Gowers stated, ‘The intention and impact of physical and online infringement are the same. Crimes committed in the online and physical world should not be subject to different sentence. Increasing the penalties for online infringement will therefore make the law more coherent.’

ACID comments, ‘The Better Regulation Principles maintain that Government action has to be “consistent” so BERR is clearly failing to meet that requirement. ACID has consistently, over the last 10 years, put forward arguments to Government and, subsequently to Gowers, to address the disparity between copyright/trade mark and design right holders, ACID has yet to be given the counter argument why they should not be given parity and consistency regarding criminal sanctions’.

Penalties for Copyright Infringement consultation document. Click here to download Gowers recommendation 36.


If any ACID members would like to respond to the consultation please send comments by 31 October 2008 to


If members would like to indicate their support for ACID to make further submissions on behalf of its members, please email Dids Macdonald

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