Should we criminalise the theft of intellectual property?

Recently, Trevor Baylis , who invented the wind-up radio, has written to the business secretary urging him to criminalise the theft of intellectual property.

I have known Trevor Bylis when we both spoke at an event in Ireland a few years ago. Trevor is an interesting character and a good speaker. He has raised the profile for IPR and patents here in the UK for many years now ..But I don’t agree with the idea of criminalising people for patent infringement. 

gillette-patent

The problem is simply this: Inventions like wind up radio, Gilette shaving blades etc have a whole portfolio of interlocking patents that protect the invention. This applies to much larger domains like CDMA technology from Qualcomm as well. However, a vast majority of patents do not fall into this realm – making the Trevor Baylis’s idea impossible to implement.

Makes for good headlines .. But little else ..

Having said that, the patent and IPR process does need review .. And to that I agree.

trevor-bayliss

Images:

1) A picture of Gilette’s patent application in 1904 for the shaving blade. Source wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Patent1904-RasierhobelKingC-Gilett.jpg and
2) Me with Trevor Baylis at Dublin airport in Ireland