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The website copycat victims were told to seek the services of lawyers instead of relying on professional bodies to discipline the thieves. Known as the “webgate” in various social media network sites, Professional Adviser has discovered six advisers who found original, copyrighted material from their company websites, reproduced, oftentimes word for word, on those of rival businesses’ websites.
Indignant advisers have denounced the alleged “intellectual property theft” and are asking for regulatory action against the alleged perpetrators for breach of the FSA’s Code of Ethics for Approved Persons.
A spokesperson of the FSA has said that, “if there are consumers’ issues involved then the usual TCF rules apply. Copying material on IFAs’ websites is more a common law issue than a regulatory one. It is not a question for us to answer.”
The managing director of Churchhouse Financial Planning, Keith Churchhouse, reasoned out that, “TCF is about ensuring there is nothing misrepresentative about an IFA’s proposition. The FSA says advice websites are financial promotions and must be compliant so we invested in compliance checks for ours.” Churchhouse also added that, “Copying it is deceptive to us and consumers. The FSA should be looking at intellectual property theft as a serious issue.”
Lucy Grub, a Chartered Insurance Institute, or CII, spokesperson said, “Website copying is not something we would condone but if someone has a complaint with the option of legal recourse we advise them to pursue that first then come to us.” She further added that, “If legal recourse decides against a named individual member it can then be referred to the CII.”