Wednesday, December 17, 2008

UK Surveys IP in the Workplace

The UK Intellectual Property Office's IP Crimes Group has released research results that appear to show a complacency towards IP infringement issues in the workplace. The study focused on IP infringement in the workplace, with information gathered by way of interviews of a random sample of managers.

Some of the findings include:

-- 75% of companies allow employees to advertise items for sale to their colleagues; DVDs and CDs are the most commonly-sold items.

-- Almost 20% of the managers were aware of counterfeit DVD sales being made at work, with lower-level managers being more aware of such sales than were upper-level managers.

-- Few of the surveyed managers say that their organizations train employees not to download copyrighted material without the copyright owner's permission; 28% report that there is no such training, and 45% say that "employment contracts forbid illegal activity," which is not the same as training.

-- As for business software, roughly half of the managers said that they either did not know how often their organization checked to make sure that all business software was properly licensed, or that such audits occurred "less than once a year."

-- While 99% of managers would turn to the Internet and their human resources departments to educate themselves on their company's rights and responsibilities with regard to copyright and trademark issues, about 40% would ask their lawyers.

-- Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed would find it useful to receive some sort of information about IP issues in the workplace.

For those of us whose careers are deeply intertwined with IP law, these findings can serve as a bit of a wake-up call. Not everybody in business is as sensitized to identifying and managing IP issues as we are. There is still plenty of work to be done . . .

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