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Reviewed 26 May 2009

Awareness drive launched in fight against counterfeiting and piracy

David Lammy, Minister of State for Intellectual Property, today, 26 May 2009, emphasised the Government’s commitment to fighting counterfeiting and piracy with the launch of guidance designed to highlight the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Both consumers and traders will be targeted with The Proceeds of Crime leaflet, which has been produced by the Intellectual Property Office’s IP Crime Group. The leaflet seeks to raise consumer and market trader awareness of IP crime as well as warning would-be buyers and traders of counterfeit goods of the real cost – not only in terms of economic damage but also the risks to health and safety.

David Lammy said:

"Counterfeiting and piracy rob our economy of millions of pounds every year - intellectual property crime is worth £1.3billion in the UK with £900 million of this flowing to organised crime. It affects people in their day-to-day lives presenting not just bad value for money but also posing a real risk to public safety.

"Legislation alone will not combat counterfeiting and piracy. Laws must be fit for purpose but effective enforcement is key. The Proceeds of Crime leaflet sends a clear message that we are all serious about tackling this problem."

Developments in technology and communications have led to increases in intellectual property (IP) crime (counterfeiting and piracy) over the past decade, with estimates that the international trade in fake goods is worth around $200 billion - higher than the GDP of more than 150 countries. This figure is rising and doesn’t include goods that are produced and sold domestically.

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.

Giles York, Deputy Chief Constable and Chair of the IP Crime Group said:

"The Proceeds of Crime Act is a hugely important tool in the enforcement armoury in preventing and fighting crime. It is crucial for consumers and market traders to understand the hidden cost of buying and selling counterfeit goods. This leaflet aims to do just that and also warns illegal traders of the severe penalties they could face if they break the law."

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

"As growing members of local authority trading standards professionals are trained and appointed as financial investigators so the consequences for targeted criminals engaged in counterfeiting and piracy will become ever more tangible. They will risk having their ill-gained assets seized as well as the courts imposing serious deterrent penalties. We now live in a new economy where such economic theft and damage is wholly incompatible with the needs of those wanting employment and hard pressed consumers demanding real value, reliability and quality."

Graham Wilson, Chief Executive of the National Association of British Market Authorities said:

"Markets are an important part of the retail economy and counterfeit goods have no place in markets. NABMA would encourage all market operators to work with trading standards and other relevant agencies to deal with any issues relating to counterfeit goods."

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 Proceeds of crime, how safe is yours? leaflet PDF document(89Kb) is available.
  • The Proceeds of Crime Act came into force in 2002 and was intended to deter people from crime by ensuring that criminals do not hang onto their unlawful gains. Recovered assets from convicted criminals are then returned to society.
  • US$200 billion cited in ‘The economic impact of counterfeiting and piracy’, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2007.
  • 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.
  • For enquiries about the Intellectual Property Office press or media activities please contact James Thomson on +44 (0) 20 7596 6547 or Lucy Barrow +44 (0) 20 7596 6563.

Date of release: 26 May 2009