Press release

Neville-Rolfe: Better enforcement tackling the rise in online intellectual property crime

Consumers must beware of traders using the internet to sell counterfeit and pirated goods, according to Intellectual Property Crime report.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Consumers must beware of illegal traders who are increasingly using the internet to sell counterfeit and pirated goods, according to the Intellectual Property (IP) Crime report published by Baroness Neville-Rolfe.

The report, written by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) on behalf of the UK IP Crime Group sets out key developments in IP crime and new enforcement activity tackling issues including:

  • the creation and impact of a specialist police unit, The City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) which has already investigated more than £28 million worth of IP crime and suspended more than 2,000 domain names in its first year
  • targeted investigations by Trading Standards
  • greater intervention by industry to highlight breaches and defend their own intellectual property.

The progress made in tackling IP crime has been the result of greater collaboration between government, enforcement agencies and industry. The impact of PIPCU, the first unit of its kind in the world, has been mirrored by increasing levels of industry intervention including:

  • 72 million instances of infringing digital material removed by the UK Music industry (BPI)
  • more than 1.6 million links to books which infringe copyright taken down by the Publishers Association (PA), a 4-fold increase on the previous year

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said:

Criminals who steal work and ideas, or make and sell fake merchandise pose a real threat to jobs in the UK, and deceive consumers who want to know the goods they buy are the real thing.

National and international efforts to fight this type of crime are yielding real results, through new specialist resources, greater collaboration and intervention by industry. It is vital that we keep fighting to bring intellectual property criminals to justice and make sure that consumers are alert to the risks.

The report shows how the UK government, law enforcement agencies and industry bodies are collaborating to address the threat posed by IP crime. This coordinated response is an indication of the level of threat this criminal activity poses to UK businesses and consumers.

Trading Standards have reported a 15% annual increase in the sale of counterfeit goods online, while 69% of local authorities investigated IP crime on social media, 65% on online auction sites and 61% on other websites.

Counterfeit goods harm consumers as well as the economy, communities and legitimate jobs. The report also highlights the indisputable link between IP crime and other criminal activity including serious organised crime, money laundering, benefit fraud, drug-dealing and violence.

Chair of the Intellectual Property Crime Group and National Police Lead IP Crime, Chief Constable Giles York said:

The 2013/14 IP Crime report demonstrates the position of the UK as a global leader in tackling the enforcement of IP crime, with examples of strong partnerships between the IPO, law enforcement and the IP industry delivering notable and innovative successes over the last 12 months.

Notes to Editors

  1. The IP Crime Report is available at IP Crime Report 2013/2014
  2. The IP Crime Group was launched in August 2004 by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) bringing together all stakeholders, including government, to drive the creation of a national strategy for tackling IP crime.
  3. The Group brings together experts from industry groups, enforcement agencies and government to work in collaboration on the issues relating to IP crime.
  4. The independent Taylor Wessing Global IP Index 2013 ranked the UK as the best IP regime in the world, and the US Chamber of Commerce ranked the UK’s enforcement framework as the global leader.
  5. UK government takes the issue of IP infringement seriously, and is working with industry and enforcement agencies on a number of initiatives to tackle this issue.
  6. In September 2013 the UK launched a dedicated online IP crime unit, run by the City of London Police – PIPCU. It is dedicated to tackling serious and organised online piracy and counterfeiting (affecting digital and physical goods) and to protecting legitimate UK businesses.
  7. Creative Content UK (formerly Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme - VCAP) is an industry-led initiative that aims to replicate the provisions of the delayed Digital Economy Act by sending millions of notices to those detected by copyright owners infringing via unlawful peer-to-peer file-sharing. The educational aspects of Creative Content UK are of great importance and the government is providing support for this campaign.
  8. In June 2014, the UK hosted a major International IP Enforcement Summit, bringing together delegates from governments, industry and law enforcement to help raise the global profile of this issue and highlight the work being undertaken to tackle IP crime.
  9. Regional breakdowns:
Published 10 October 2014