Skip to main content

Armed Forces: Medals

Volume 684: debated on Tuesday 25 July 2006

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What representations the Minister for veterans’ affairs, Mr Tom Watson, has received from Falklands veteran Graham John Cordwell of the Parachute Regiment about the production and sale for private profit of medals and medal ribbons; and whether they intend to take any action. [HL6743]

Mr Cordwell wrote to the Minister for Veterans on 23 June, seeking answers to a number of questions. A copy of the response has been placed in the Library of the House.

Current copyright and design law provides a comprehensive regime for protecting and controlling the re-use of Crown and Ministry of Defence-owned intellectual property. However, the protection afforded is not perpetual and once it has expired manufacturers are free to reproduce the designs. The Ministry of Defence has in place a number of licensees who manufacture replica medals and miniatures for sale, for which fees are paid. We do not control the reproduction of the ribbons as, in the opinion of the MoD’s intellectual property staff, the designs do not meet the originality threshold to obtain copyright or design protection.

In addition, where we do have copyright protection, the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005 obliges public sector bodies to licence the reproduction of this material on an equitable basis, where a request is received.

My noble friend may be aware of the current Government review of intellectual property legislation by Andrew Gowers, under the Treasury. The MoD has made an informal submission to the review on the subject of protection of medals and decorations of the Armed Forces. However, the issue of the protection of honours is wider than just those for which the Armed Forces are eligible, these being the responsibility of the Honours Committee of the Cabinet Office. Ultimately it will be the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry, as the department responsible for intellectual property, to propose any legislative amendments that Ministers choose to implement from the report's recommendations.