Copyright, Trademarks, and Communication Surveillance

P. John made this Freedom of Information request to Intellectual Property Office

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I understand from the Information Commissioners Office that

"The UK IPO has overall responsibility for Copyright. They were already considering the possible Copyright issues related to Phorm during 2008 and this had been discussed between Departments in general terms."

Please could you disclose to me

- Any correspondence (in general terms or otherwise) between UK IPO and other Government departments concerning intellectual property issues arising from the unauthorised use of communication surveillance by BT, including copyright and trademark infringement, since 1 January 2008

- The dates, agenda, and minutes of meetings between the UK IPO and other Government departments concerning the intellectual property issues arising from the unauthorised use of communication surveillance by BT, since 1 January 2008

- Any reports, briefing notes, or advice documents prepared for Ministers or senior Civil Servants concerning intellectual property issues arising from the unauthorised use of communications surveillance by BT, since 1 January 2008

- Any response to, or analysis of, the Foundation for Information Policy Research paper "Profiling Web Users - Some Intellectual Property Problems"
(see http://www.fipr.org/press/081125phorm.html)

- Finally, any guidance provided to the Crown Prosecution Service, Police, British Telecom, and/or Phorm concerning the application of intellectual property law to materials published on the internet

Noting your web site states unequivocally "The same rules apply on the internet as with other medium" and "Copyright applies to the internet in the same way as material in other media. For example, any photographs you place on the internet will be protected in the same way as other artistic works; any original written work will be protected as a literary work, and so on."

Yours faithfully,
P John

Sent request to Intellectual Property Office again, using a new contact address.

Alison Smith, Intellectual Property Office

Dear Mr John

Thank you for your email of 16 September 2009 requesting information about intellectual property issues arising from the unauthorised use of communication surveillance, including copyright and trademark infringement.

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and will be answered within twenty working days.

If you have any queries about this request please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Smith
Records officer
Intellectual Property Office
Tel: 01633 814587

show quoted sections

Alison Smith, Intellectual Property Office

Dear Mr John

Thank you for your email of 16 September 2009 in which you
requested information about intellectual property issues arising
from the unauthorised use of communication surveillance, including
copyright and trademark infringement.

We do hold information falling within the terms of your request
however we need more time to consider it.

I wish to advise you that the following exemptions may apply to
some of the information that you have requested:

Section 42: concerned with legal professional privilege Section
27(2): relations between the UK and the EU Section 43(2):
commercial interests Section 35: formulation of Government policy.

Furthermore, as the names of officials below senior civil service
level are not generally in the public domain they are considered to
be personal information and therefore exempt under section 40(2).
This exemption may be circumvented by redacting names from any
documents released.

I would stress that the qualified exemptions listed above are under
consideration and no decision has been made as yet to withhold any
documents.

By virtue of section 10 (3), where public authorities have to
consider the balance of the public interest in relation to a
request, they do not have to comply with the request until such
time as is reasonable in the circumstances.

The Intellectual Property Office has not yet reached a decision on
the balance of the public interest. Due to the need to consider, in
all the circumstances of the case, where the balance of the public
interest lies in relation to the information that you have
requested, the Department will not be able to respond to your
request in full within 20 working days.

I hope to let you have a response by 16 November 2009.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have
the right under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to ask for an
internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted
within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to:

Chief Executive Intellectual Property Office PO Box 49 Cardiff Road
Newport South Wales NP10 8YU

E-mail: [email address]

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you
have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner
for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office Wycliffe House Water Lane
Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Smith Records officer Intellectual Property Office Tel:
01633 814587 Email: [email address]

Dear Ms Smith,

I'm disappointed that there should be a delay responding to this FoI request.

Stephen Timms said today at the APCOMMS conference;

"there must be effective action against people who think they can take something for nothing".

and I agree with him.

People who abuse intellectual property, particularly in a way that damages the interests of the creator, should not expect that they can take creative work for nothing.

And that includes the contents of private/confidential communications, web pages, and the identity of web sites.

Yours sincerely,

P. John

Alison Smith, Intellectual Property Office

Dear Mr John

We at this Office are well aware that the Freedom of Information Act places upon us a duty to respond promptly and we would wish to avoid the frustration of delay whenever possible.

But the Act also recognizes that sometimes public bodies may have to take longer to determine whether the public interest is best served by disclosure or by maintaining an exemption in respect of the information requested.

Please be assured that we will not delay responding for any longer that we need to.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Smith
Records officer
Intellectual Property Office
Tel: 01633 814587

show quoted sections

Alison Smith, Intellectual Property Office

1 Attachment

Dear Mr John

I am writing in response to your email of 16 September 2009 in which you requested information about intellectual property issues arising from the unauthorised use of communication surveillance, including copyright and trademark infringement. We have now completed searching for the information you requested and considered the public interest in relation to the qualified exemptions.

A copy of the information, which can be disclosed, is attached. The remainder of the information that you requested is exempt under the following sections of the Freedom of Information Act and is therefore withheld.

Section 42: legal professional privilege.
Although the exemption in section 42 is qualified and each case must be considered on its own merits, the information to which this exemption applies is withheld by virtue of the strong public interest consideration in maintaining the confidential nature of consultation with legal advisors.

Section 27(2): Confidential information obtained from an international organisation.
In all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining this exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing information because disclosure would inhibit other governments' and international organisations' willingness to share sensitive information with the United Kingdom.

Section 35(1)(a): The formulation or development of government policy.
Although it is acknowledged that transparency may serve to make government more accountable, in all the circumstances of this case the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing information because disclosure would be likely to be a negative effect on the conduct of good government, in particular on good decision making based on the best advice available.

Section 40(2): Personal information
As already indicated in my email of 15 October, names of officials have been redacted as they are considered exempt under s.40(2), as the release of their identity would breach the first data protection principle, i.e. fairness in the processing of personal data. In addition, other information submitted by a third party has also been withheld for the same reason. In that case mere redaction of the name of the individual concerned is not considered to be sufficient to protect identity and the expression of personal opinions.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to:

Chief Executive
Intellectual Property Office
PO Box 49
Cardiff Road
Newport
South Wales
NP10 8YU

E-mail: [email address]

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Smith
Records Officer
Intellectual Property Office
Tel: 01633 814587