HC Deb 22 December 1983 vol 51 cc349-50W
Mr. Bright

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy against counterfeiting of British manufactures.

Mr. Channon

My right hon. Friend is determined to take effective and resolute action to tackle the problem of counterfeiting. If my hon. Friend has any particular examples of it I would be pleased to investigate them.

Earlier this year my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Trade announced the setting up of a special unit to review anti-counterfeiting policy in the light of widespread concern among manufacturers and to monitor developments and problems relating to industrial counterfeiting.

This has now been done. The conclusion is that British manufacturers are, on the whole, affected more by the sale of counterfeits in markets overseas, in competition with genuine goods exported from the United Kingdom, than by their sale in the United Kingdom itself. The main exception is video piracy, which has been a major problem in the United Kingdom and was the subject of legislation earlier this year.

Armed with these findings the Government will raise with Governments of other countries concerned the need for effective action against counterfeiting. In view of the absence of diplomatic relations, counterfeiting in Taiwan — which has been a major source of such goods in recent years — raises special problems, but the authorities in Taiwan have been made fully aware of our views and I am pleased to say that they have taken a number of measures, including the introduction of heavier penalties for trade mark offences. In recent months there have been fewer complaints of copying and counterfeiting reported to my Department. We intend to continue close monitoring of the position in Taiwan.

The United Kingdom will also continue to press strongly, through the European Community, for an international agreement on combating counterfeiting as part of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

As to the sale of counterfeit goods in the United Kingdom, the survey has revealed a need to increase manufacturers' awareness of the wide range of remedies already available. I have therefore decided to issue a pamphlet giving guidance on how to deal with counterfeiting problems. This is available from the DTI in London and through its regional offices and small firms centres.

In future, now that the review work by the special unit is over, anti-counterfeiting work will be carried out by the appropriate branches of the Department such as the overseas trade divisions, consumer affairs division and the Patent Office. Guidance on whom to contact for advice in any anti-counterfeiting case is included in the pamphlet to which I have referred. I am placing a copy of this pamphlet in the Library.

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