Feeds

Brit inventor wants prison for patent crims

Trevor Baylis winds himself up

High performance access to file storage

The inventor of the wind-up radio is calling on the UK government to toughen its stance on patent law, by making intellectual property theft a criminal offence.

Trevor Baylis has written to business secretary Lord Mandelson urging him to consider a change in legislation.

He said in an interview with the Beeb today that inventors needed more protection against people who attempt to copy or steal their ideas. At present patents in Blighty are protected only under civil law where a patent-holder is required to sue for compensation.

"If I was to nick your car, which is worth £10,000, say, I could go to jail," Baylis told the BBC.

"But if I were to nick your patent, which is worth a million pounds, you'd have to sue me.

"And if I was a colossal company, or indeed another country, that had stolen your invention, how could you find a million pounds a day to take me to court?"

Baylis said that if the government made patent theft a criminal offence in the same way, he argues, that stealing copyright from artists is illegal, then the state rather than the individual would be shackled with the costs of taking action in a criminal court.

Currently inventors who want to protect their ideas are required to take out a patent with the UK Intellectual Property Office, which can be a costly exercise.

"I believe that theft of intellectual property rights should be treated as a white collar crime," Baylis said in a letter to Mandelson.

"I believe that UK plc should stand behind those courageous individuals whose ideas can change all our lives both commercially and socially."

Baylis has garnered support from the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. His local MP, LibDem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable, has also backed the inventor’s call for a change to patent law.

“There isn't the protection that exists in other areas of intellectual property,” Cable told the BBC.

"If people steal ideas from creative artists, you can go to prison for that. But patent theft is just part of life."

However, others have hit out at Baylis for overlooking the complexities of patent law.

One member of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys described Baylis’s comments about criminalising patent violations as “barking mad”, while another said the parallel with copyright protection was a misleading one.

"Patent infringement is not remotely like flogging knock-off CDs.

"Honest, decent people running reputable businesses infringe patents. They might not know the patent exists, or their patent attorney might have told them it was valid or infringed."

Meanwhile over the other side of the pond, Microsoft has called for a “Global patent harmonisation” which it insists isn’t “just wishful thinking about an ideal patent system”.

The software giant’s deputy general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, claimed yesterday that over 3.5 million patent applications were pending worldwide, including 750,000 in the US.

“Pendency periods are extending to three, four or in some case five years before final patents are issued,” he said.

“The cost of this workload to patent applicants and patent offices is too high, and the delays in securing patents are too long for entrepreneurs and large enterprises alike.”

Gutierrez claimed that the slow nature of the process to get a patent approved could damage innovation and be bad for business.

“The logical next step is to accelerate the work underway to align patent approval procedures and application formats, including a common digital application, and to collaboratively set standards for patentable subject matter, adequacy of disclosure and enablement requirements, and the completeness of the examination record,” he opined.

“Bold action is needed. Stringent criteria must be established and clearly understood so patent search and examination results can be accepted by patent authorities around the world.” ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.