Skip to main content

Intellectual Property Rights

Volume 658: debated on Thursday 25 April 2019

5. What steps the Government are taking to protect intellectual property rights in international trade agreements. (910514)

The UK’s intellectual property regime is consistently rated as one of the best in the world. The Government are reviewing their future trade policy as we leave the EU and ensuring that existing trade arrangements with global partners—including provisions on intellectual property—continue uninterrupted on the day the UK leaves the EU.

The Minister will no doubt be aware that tomorrow is World Intellectual Property Day, and this year the theme is sport and intellectual property. A number of United Kingdom-based companies have had their intellectual property stolen by beoutQ, a Saudi Arabian-based pirate broadcaster, including—I know this will interest you, Mr Speaker—last Monday’s Watford against Arsenal match. What steps are we taking to protect the intellectual property rights of UK businesses and sports interests, and will we use our trade policy to hold to account countries such as Saudi Arabia that are allowing the theft of our country’s intellectual property in that way?

I am not familiar with the case raised by the right hon. Gentleman, but if would like to drop me a line, I would be happy to look into it more carefully. We will continue to make representations to Saudi Arabia on that point. The UK intellectual property regime is respected around the world, and our local, European and international commitments produce one of the tightest and most respected regulatory regimes for IP worldwide. We believe that is the right system, and we will insist that it is honoured by others, particularly if we are to do trade deals with them.

The Minister is right to encourage small and medium-sized businesses to do more trade internationally, but those businesses are the most vulnerable to the risk of intellectual property theft. What assurances and support can the Minister give companies such as those in the digital games sector in my constituency, to encourage them to do more abroad?

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave a moment ago. We have one of the most robust and respected regimes for IP protection internationally. A specialist group sits in the Department for International Trade and advises on IP matters, and that is very important to this country. We recognise the extent of exports that are driven by games, TV, sports and so on, and that is hugely important to us. SMEs should get in contact with local DIT offices. We can always help and would be delighted to do so.