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What is IP crime?

If you own an intellectual property (IP) right such as a copyright, design, patent or trade mark, then others can not manufacture, use, sell or import it without prior permission. Unauthorised use of someone's IP can be classed as IP crime and may lead to prosecution.

Wilful trade mark infringement generally relates to counterfeiting whilst a breach of copyright can be piracy.

Examples of counterfeiting could include, fake:

  • clothing
  • footwear
  • handbags
  • pharmaceuticals

For more information, see trade mark crime.

Examples of piracy could be Digital Versatile Discs (DVD's), Compact Discs (CD's) or CD Roms of unauthorised copies of:

  • music
  • software
  • films
  • games

For more information, see copyright crime.

There is a fine line between counterfeiting and piracy and it's not uncommon for the two to overlap.

Counterfeiting and piracy in the UK impacts businesses, communities and consumers, raising serious safety concerns and putting consumers at risk.

The annual IP Crime Report includes an overview of the impact of IP crime in the UK, the effects on the economy, consumer safety and links between IP crime and other criminality.

Guide to offences

There are a number of criminal IP offences that may be committed by individuals who produce, distribute or sell counterfeit and pirated goods, and can lead to prosecution. However, it may be worthwhile to try and find a solution with the infringer/IP right holder before taking any potentially costly legal action.

How do you report IP crime?

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is responsible for granting IP rights in the UK, including patents, trade marks and designs. The IPO are also responsible for policy in copyright and IP crime (Counterfeiting and piracy). We are not a prosecuting agency, so we cannot provide legal advice to either party.