© Crown copyright 2018
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/topical-issues-for-business-and-consumers/topical-issues-for-businesses-and-consumers
1. Fake poppies
Unscrupulous criminals are always looking for quick and easy profits. In 2017, thousands of fake poppy-branded merchandising items were seized in the UK by law enforcement in the lead up to Remembrance.
Fake poppy products can be hard to differentiate from the real thing. We believe profits made from these sales may end up funding organised crime rather than supporting the armed forces communities.
Sellers should be aware that selling, advertising or supplying fake goods in the shape, or bearing the image of, The Royal British Legion’s familiar two-petal red poppy (or Poppy Scotland’s four-petal poppy in Scotland), or indicating that they are associated to The Royal British Legion, is highly likely to constitute a criminal offence which can lead to fines and imprisonment.
Check before you buy:
Location and price are always a good indicator. Consumers should always buy from reputable sellers. If in doubt, do some research about the seller online, including looking at their feedback and reviews from previous buyers.
Official partners of The Royal British Legion will always use a Contribution Statement. This confirms the amount or percentage to be paid to Royal British Legion Trading which gives its taxable profits to The Royal British Legion and will always include its charity number. This is a requirement of Charity Law.
If you are aware of fake poppy merchandise being sold report it to Crimestoppers online or on 0800 555 111.
2. Counterfeit vehicle parts
Counterfeit or sub-standard car parts are very often products manufactured using low quality materials. These can range from parts that have direct safety implications such as brake pads, alloy wheels, oil filters and bearings; to accessories such as key fobs.
When fitted, these parts can potentially cause substantial damage to your vehicle, and increase maintenance costs over a period of time. Vehicles fitted with such parts do not only pose risks to its occupants but also to other road users.
Consumers and businesses should be aware that the sale, advertising or supply of counterfeit car parts is highly likely to constitute a criminal offence which carries damages and imprisonment.
Further guidance on how to avoid counterfeit car parts is available.
3. Filesharing, downloading and streaming
Illegal filesharing means exchange digital files with other users over the internet without permission from the copyright owner. Downloading means transferring full files from one digital storage to another for later use or more conversely, from a remote server to an end user computer/device. Streaming in contrast, the data is used nearly immediately, there is no permanent transfer of files.
Facilitating the downloading or streaming of restricted copyright content such as music and films through unauthorised websites, file lockers and BitTorrent trackers is illegal.
The Citizens Advice provide further guidance.
There are various initiatives to guide consumers to legitimate websites including:
Get it right from a genuine site for music, TV, films, games, books, newspapers, magazines and sport
Findanyfilm.com for films
Agorateka is a Pan-European portal of the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), offering searches through national-level portals that link to sites for music, film and television, e-books, video games and sports events.
4. Illicit streaming devices, also known as ‘Kodi’ boxes
Illicit streaming devices are physical boxes that are connected to your TV or USB sticks that plug into the TV such as adapted Amazon Fire sticks and so called ‘Kodi’ boxes or Android TV boxes.
These devices are legal when used to watch legitimate, free to air, content. They become illegal once they are adapted to stream illicit content, for example TV programmes, films and subscription sports channels without paying the appropriate subscriptions.
Consumers and businesses should be aware that the sale, advertising or supply of such devices for illicit streaming is highly likely to constitute a criminal offence and there are a wide range of provisions which may be applicable.
Further guidance about illicit streaming devices including how to identify such devices is available.
5. Fake alcohol
Vodka is the most commonly counterfeited spirit worldwide. Its sale doesn’t just create funds for organised crime but people who think they are getting a good deal by buying suspiciously cheap vodka are putting their lives at risk. In recent years dozens of people have lost their lives or been left with severe health issues after consuming fake vodka.
Drink safe, next time you buy a bottle remember the 4P’s
- Place: buy from a reputable off licence premise.
- Price: if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Packaging: watch out for poor quality labelling including spelling mistakes and tampered bottles.
- Product: vodka is the most commonly counterfeited spirit. Watch out for fake versions of well-known brands as well as unusual brand names you never heard of. If you spot bottles not filled to the same levels, see sediment in the bottle or if the content smells wrong, like nail varnish, don’t buy or drink it.
Drink safe. If the vodka doesn’t pass the 4P’s test, don’t buy or drink it, and report it.
Visit the Drinkaware Trust website for further information.
6. Photographs or images on the internet including social media
Photographs, illustrations and other images will generally be protected by copyright as artistic works. This means that a user will usually need the permission of the copyright owner(s) if they want to perform certain acts, such as copying the image or sharing it on the internet.
The vast majority of images found on the internet including in social media platforms are likely to be protected by copyright, so it is only safe to use it if:
- you have specific permission to do so through a licence or;
- your particular use is specifically permitted in the terms and conditions of the website supplying the image and this is the copyright owner’s website or another website which has the copyright owner’s permission to allow other people to use an image or;
- your particular use of the images are for specific purposes known in law as permitted acts
Further information can be found at IPO’s copyright notice entitled: Digital images, photographs and the internet.
7. Letters alleging online copyright infringement
You may have received a letter if the copyright owner believes someone has used your internet connection to share (or ‘upload’), copyright protected material, such as a film. If you are unsure how to respond seek legal advice. Don’t ignore the letter. Even if you believe that you or anyone with access to your internet connection hasn’t shared the copyright protected material without the copyright owner’s permission. You should respond, even if you request more time to seek advice before you provide a more detailed response.
Further details about letters alleging online copyright infringement including where to get advice is available.
8. Danger of fake electrical goods
Fake and substandard electrical products can cause serious injuries and in some cases loss of life. Phone chargers, electronic games, hairstyling products such as hair straighteners, and e-cigarettes are among the most commonly counterfeited electrical goods available on the high street and the internet.
You can protect yourself from dangerous electrical goods by buying from reputable online retailers or on the high street.
Don’t be tempted by the heavily discounted prices or flash sales particularly from not well-known retailers. Visit the Electrical Safety First Charity website for hints and tips on how to buy electrical products safely.
9. Intellectual property and cyber security
Intellectual property (IP) crime is traditionally viewed as counterfeiting (false branding) and piracy (illegal copying) but cybercriminals are increasingly coming to recognise the value of confidential data held by businesses, be it sensitive information about the business operations (trade secrets and know-how) or customer information.
These attacks on confidential data are happening globally with increasing rapidity and ever more complexity. Zero-day vulnerabilities (where hackers have discovered and exploit a software security breach before a fix is available) are increasing exponentially.
In response to this IP Wales, an award-winning business support initiative based at the College of Law and Criminology at Swansea University, has launched a new online initiative to help SMEs to protect their IP online. A free downloadable copy of the SME Guide to IP Cybersecurity is also available.
If you which to obtain further information please contact Andrew Beale at Swansea University.