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By | OUT-LAW.COM 24th December 2008 10:13

Software copyright inspection powers used for first time

Trading standards picks through firm's systems

A forensic examination of the software used by a Welsh business has been conducted under powers recently granted to Trading Standards officers under the Copyright, Designs and Patents

Software copyright activist body the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) said that it was the first time that the new powers of inspection had been used.

Trading Standards officers have powers of search and seizure in relation to certain kinds of offences. Following recommendations in 2006's Gowers Review of Intellectual Property those powers were extended to cover copyright violations.

FAST said in a statement that those powers had been used earlier this month against a business in Cardiff and that all of that company's software was inspected to find out if it was properly licensed. The name of the company and result of the audit were not released.

"We announced earlier this year that our officers would conduct a number of random inspections to ascertain how well businesses are performing against legal requirements in our digital economy," said Dave Holland of Cardiff Trading Standards. "We want to help business meet legal requirements and remain competitive in the current economic climate. However, any businesses flagrantly breaking the law without regard will be brought to account."

Changes to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act made in April 2007 gave Trading Standards officers the power to enter premises and seize goods and documents they believe to be involved in copyright infringement.

The Government pledged £5 million of new money to help the existing 4,500 Trading Standards officers to undertake their new duties.

"IP criminals should know that the UK is not a safe place," said the then-Minister for Science and Innovation Malcolm Wicks at the time. "Their risk of 10 years' imprisonment and unlimited fines is very real and from this date forward a markedly higher risk."

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OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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