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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

IP crime in the UK: the battle begins ...

A press release from the UK Intellectual Property Office reports on the Trading Standards Consumer Affairs Conference in Bournemouth, which the UK-IPO describes as "an opportunity ... to celebrate the success of partnership working and new legislative powers in the on-going fight against IP Crime".

Right: there ought to be a prize-winning caption to fit this touching illustration of law enforcement

According to the press release,

"A new and effective enforcement tool in the fight against IP crime is asset confiscation. Using new legislation, the Proceeds of Crime Act [not so new: this Act was passed in July 2002], a Sheffield dealer selling counterfeit designer goods worth millions of pounds was recently told to pay back the proceeds of her crimes - £2.8million - or face 10 years in prison.

Other successes include the recent pilot scheme between the Wales Regional Intelligence Unit and the Optical Media Industry anti-piracy units which, with the support of Trading Standards, Police and Regional Asset Recovery Teams has led to major disruption of both physical and on-line crime groups. ...

Detective Sergeant Graham Mogg, Intelligence Co-ordinator, who joined the UK-IPO from South Wales Police in August 2007 said: ''The criminal fraternity often view IP crime as a low risk, high profit business venture [But it is! Each year about 100 people in the UK are struck by lightning, but asset confiscations and forfeitures run at the rate of about two a month], however, the individuals and organised crime groups engaged in IP infringement undermine community values, impact on legitimate businesses and damage the UK economy".

The UK-IPO has taken this opportunity to advertise the existence of The Intellectual Property Crime Report 2007, which carries plenty of upbeat and highly information about the fight on fakes in the criminal sphere of activity. The Report contains the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1 Page 13
UK-IPO, in conjunction with the new Strategic Advisory Board for IP policy
(SABIP), to enhance the coordination of IP related research [first things first: SABIP has a bit of an IP learning curve ahead of it if it's going to be much use].

Recommendation 2 Page 16
The Government (the UK-IPO) should work with IP Crime Group members to agree an accurate national standard measure of the level of IP crime, including industry
revenue loss, industry profit loss, criminal market size and criminal gain [this would be really helpful since, if nothing else, it gives a much better idea of the scale of the resources that are needed in tackling IP crime].

Recommendation 3 Page 16
The Government to agree that the UK-IPO record the seizures of counterfeit and
pirated goods from all enforcement authorities and publish the results of prosecutions and Proceeds of Crime actions on an annual basis.

Recommendation 4 Page 36
The use of the Proceeds of Crime Act and Financial Investigators to be encouraged when prosecuting IP criminals.

Recommendation 5 Page 37
Members of the IP rights owning community should be encouraged to provide
training and share expertise with enforcers to improve their technical knowledge
and understanding of IP [but the IP rights owners have being trying to do this for years, with organisations like the Anti-Counterfeiting Group doing much to bring the two together].

Recommendation 6 Page 39
The UK-IPO to facilitate a continuing national programme of awareness-raising
within enforcement authorities and officials within the judicial process, with the
assistance of brands and trade associations where appropriate [This should be fun!].

Recommendation 7 Page 40
UK-IPO to develop and host a secure web-based resource that allows access by enforcers to counterfeit product identification guidelines and a contacts database listing brand protection departments and rights holders representatives’ details for use by the IP community [Can we assume that the competition authorities won't regard this is a veiled form of information-sharing for the purposes of establishing market dominance?].

Recommendation 8 Page 43
Achieve the wider dissemination of expertise and knowledge pertinent to internet
investigations through delivery by the IP rights owning community across
enforcement agencies and the IP Crime Group membership [Gosh -- "pertinent"is an anagram of "internet" plus the letter "p" ...].

Recommendation 9 Page 60
UK-IPO to engage at corporate level with UK businesses, to ensure an understanding of the responsibilities and work programme being progressed by the UK-IPO/IP Crime Group.

The IPKat is pleased that, at long last, the adversaries of IP crime -- the victims and the enforcement agencies -- are facing the same direction and have some sort of shared perspective on what ought to be done. Merpel says, someone involved in the production of the Intellectual Property Crime Report 2007 should be convicted of crimes against the environment. There are ten blank pages in the 98 page report. If you print them out, you will receive ten heavily coloured/shaded blanks. This is a waste of paper and printing cartridges. Please don't do this again!

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