FAST flags up IP importance with political change looming

The Federation Against Software Theft is championing intellectual property and looking to speak for more of the creative industry with the general election looming

These days the manufacturing industry is a shadow of what it was 100 years ago, we don't make that many ships and our steel and coal industries have found it tough to compete against international competitors.

That leaves us increasingly with a 'services' economy and a country that makes it's living being the best at adding value to areas like finance and in the creative industries.

The challenge is trying to ensure that when intellectual property is created, whether it by a tech giant like Microsoft or a small-teamed independent software vendor, it is protected.

With an election just a few weeks away there are plenty of issues that will dominate the political debate but the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) is hoping that IP is one of them.

The organisation recently drew up its own manifesto calling for more support and protection of the creative industries (see sidebar) using recent figures to underline just how important the sector is in terms of employment and revenue contribution to the country.

The FAST ten-point plan

* Encouraging R&D
* Extending connectivity
* Building on the legal framework
*  Support a vigorous IP regime
* Muscular law enforcement
* Balanced digital content consumer law
* Maintain investment in the Police IP Crime Unit and championing Trading Standards Enforcement
* Implement Article 4 of the EU Enforcement Directive
* Sensible data protection
* Deterrence and accountability

According to the government's own figures the creative industries are now worth £76.9bn a year, accounting for 1.71m jobs in 2013 – a full 5.6% of the entire working population in the UK and there is still plenty of growth in the sector going forward.

Alex Hilton, chief executive of FAST, is hoping that the commitment to protect IP and use legal means to penalise those that take it for granted will be continued and enhanced under the next government.

"IP is a fundamental at the heart of a service economy," he added "it is vital to the sufccess of the country so lets given them all the tools we can to help it go right."

FAST has recently widened its membership criteria to get more SMEs on board and Hilton is keen to get more of the industry represented as it starts to expand through more ISVs and app developers.

The organisation is offering a range of benefits to SMEs ranging from IP valuations and legal advice as it looks to encourage more smaller firms to think about securing their intellectual property.

"If you back the creative industries then the creative economy is much larger. It's huge and and we have to give every opportunity to organisations to value and protect IP," said Hilton

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