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Reviewed 26 January 2009

New business toolkit launched to help in fight against counterfeiting and piracy

A new best practice toolkit which gives businesses practical advice on how they can better protect themselves from the dangers of fake goods entering business supply chains was launched today by David Lammy, Minister for Intellectual Property.

Developments in technology and communications have led to increases in intellectual property (IP) crime (counterfeiting and piracy) over the past decade, around $200billion per year, creating one of the biggest problems for businesses of all kinds around the world.

The Supply Chain Toolkit has been produced by the Intellectual Property Office’s IP Crime Group. It includes a step by step approach on what action should be taken if counterfeits are found within the supply chain and guidance on how to strengthen and protect IP assets.

David Lammy, Minister of State for Intellectual Property said:

"IP crime is a serious global issue with tens of billions of pounds worth of counterfeit goods seized across national borders each year.

"With recent research finding that nearly a quarter of all small and medium-sized enterprises were affected by counterfeiting, this toolkit offers practical advice to businesses to help them better protect themselves from IP crime, especially during these already challenging times."

IP crime has spread from small industries producing poor-quality, counterfeit fashion accessories and goods to massive manufacturing plants that can produce cheap copies of everything from electrical appliances to medicines. Often these cheap copies can be very dangerous.

The Rogers Review of National enforcement priorities for local authority regulatory services (2007) stated that intellectual property crime is worth £1.3 billion in the UK with £900 million of this flowing to organised crime.

Many businesses rely on goods received through supply chains, often from many different suppliers, and are therefore at risk from counterfeiting and piracy unless effective systems and agreements are put in place to tackle this problem.

Ron Gainsford, Chief Executive of the Trading Standards Institute commented:

"TSI is in the unique position of being both an SME and the body representing UK trading standards professionals. We see the real harm done by IP crime both as a creative and equitable business but also through the front line eyes of our members. The Supply Chain Toolkit is an excellent initiative in helping businesses be aware of and combat the risk of piracy. SMEs face genuine challenges at this time of economic stress and the toolkit is of real and timely support."

Roger Rogowski of the UK Electronics Alliance said:

"Counterfeit electronic components are entering the UK market in huge numbers, costing the economy an estimated £1bn a year. However, the consequences of system down-time or even critical system failure resulting from the use of counterfeit components in safety critical applications, such as public transport systems, are potentially catastrophic. This toolkit will greatly assist our industry in highlighting the importance of having systems in place to tackle this growing problem effectively."

Mike Cherry, Home Affairs Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses said:

"The FSB is pleased that the Intellectual Property Office is highlighting the issue of IP Crime with guidelines to help businesses, particularly during these difficult economic times when costs are tight and the potential impact could be huge."

Aisling Burnand, Chief Executive of the BioIndustry Association (BIA) said:

"Any organisation relying on IP to protect its business should be mindful of the potential threats posed by counterfeiting. These risks can be reduced and the possibility of taking effective action can be enhanced by putting in place appropriate procedures and agreements as highlighted by the IP Crime Group's Supply Chain Toolkit".

Notes to editors

  • The Intellectual Property Office is within the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and responsible for the national framework of Intellectual Property rights, comprising patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.
  • Its role is to help manage an IP system that encourages innovation and creativity, balances the needs of consumers and users, promotes strong and competitive markets and is the foundation of the knowledge based economy.
  • It operates in a national and an international environment and its work is governed by national and international law, including various international treaties relating to IP to which the United Kingdom is a party.
  • The UK IP Crime Strategy was launched in 2004 which sought to provide a collaborative approach in the fight against IP crime. A key part of the strategy was the creation of an IP Crime Group - bringing together, for the first time, Government, enforcement agencies and industry to coordinate activity. Part of the Group’s role is to identify key IP crime issues, raise awareness and disseminate best practice.
  • The toolkit PDF document(467Kb) can be viewed on the Intellectual Property web site.
  • US$200 billion cited in ‘The economic impact of counterfeiting and piracy’, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2007.
  • Technopolis (an innovative policy consultancy) found in research that 23% of small-medium enterprises (SMEs) considered their business was significantly affected by counterfeiting.
  • For enquiries about the Intellectual Property Office press or media activities please contact James Thomson on +44(0)20 7596 6547 or Dave Hopkins on +44(0)1633 814041.
Date of release: 26 January 2009