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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

"Confidential" press release reports on British IP Crime

"Car boot sale? I thought the advert said 'Cat boot sale'"
Yesterday's press release from the United Kingdom Government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills brings good-ish news for IP owners, following publication of the IP Crime Group's 67 page IP Crime Report 2010-11:
"New report shows successes of tackling intellectual property crime

More people than ever before are being successfully prosecuted for committing intellectual property crime in the UK according to a new report ....

Intellectual Property (IP) crime is the counterfeiting of trade marked goods such as clothes and the piracy of copyright material such as CDs and DVDs. The annual IP report, published by the IP Crime Group, reveals the actions that are being taken by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and partner agencies to fight those breaking the law. 
The report highlights that 75 per cent of all criminal copyright cases end in a positive conviction. It also reveals that 80 per cent of all IP crime cases result in guilty plea prosecutions against the defendants.[These figures are gratifying, but they will be more meaningful when we also know how many cases are not prosecuted on account of evidential problems or lack of resources with which to prosecute ] 
The report shows an increase in the sale and distribution of counterfeit and pirated goods over the internet and auction websites during the last 12 months [this is unsurprising, though the figure can be expected to fall as legal downloads become cheaper and more people indulge in file-sharing], while there has been a fall in IP crime at sites such as outdoor markets, although that still remains a problem area [quite right: the rainfall can be quite unpredictable in the British Isles, though it always rains on Sunday]. ...
The report lists goods seized and activity carried out by a range of organisations across the country. It also highlights the value of the Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA) to fighting piracy and counterfeiting. The Act allows enforcement agencies to apply for money made from criminal activities to be confiscated. A 2009 MORI poll found that over 85 per cent of people support recovering assets from criminals [Merpel wonders whether this shows that over 14% of people are the criminals ... ]. 
In May 2010, London Borough of Enfield Trading Standards secured an £11 million confiscation order, one of the largest ever secured by a local council under PoCA. It followed the prosecution of a local man in February 2008 after 30,000 pairs of counterfeit Burberry shoes were seized [Hmm. Could this have been a bulk order for Imelda Marcos?]. The subsequent PoCA investigation revealed the defendant was also involved in a £72 million VAT Carousel fraud. [Why, Merpel wonders, would anyone in Enfield want to pay good money for counterfeit products when sadly, it seems, they can help themselves to genuine goods for free?] 
Other examples of significant cases involving IP crime include: 
• Six members of a group, who used high-tech equipment to produce 24 fake bottles of vodka [a small, pedantic voice is stifled in the act of crying out "Shouldn't that be bottles of fake vodka ...?"] a minute, were jailed for a combined total of 56 years in July 2010. More than 1.3 million litres of the illegal vodka was made in a warehouse in Hackney, East London, with an estimated value of £16 million. Confiscation proceedings are now underway. 
• A graduate from London was found guilty of breaching copyright by illegally recording films in cinemas. A mobile phone was used to record the films which were uploaded to the internet and made available to others to watch them or burn them onto illegal DVDs across the world [What a sad waste of a good mobile ...]
• Fake cigarette lighters [an even smaller pedantic voice is throttled before it can ask whether these are genuine lighters for use with fake cigarettes, fake lighters for use with genuine cigarettes or ... never mind!] displaying the Olympic symbol and stating London 2012 were discovered at car boot sales in Coventry. The London Olympic trade mark and the symbol of the Olympic Rings are protected trade marks, and steps are being taken to trace the supply of the lighters. Genuine London 2012 games merchandise will include a numbered holographic version of the official logo as part of the packaging or labeling. ...
Giles York, IP Crime Group chairman and Deputy Chief Constable of Sussex Police said:
“Intellectual property crime is a real and serious threat to UK companies and consumers alike. This report highlights organised criminal methodologies and the dangers posed in fake products. The recently published IP crime strategy outlines plans for tackling criminals, disrupting the supply of pirated and counterfeit goods and reducing the incentives for IP crime”".
The report is full of statistics relating to types of goods counterfeited and regional prosecution activity. The IPKat, who is no statistician, will be happy to receive guidance from his readers as to what the figures mean and whether things are as grim in Scotland as they might appear to be.  Merpel says, never mind the Report, just look at the copyright notice on the BIS press release. It reads like this:
"© Crown Copyright 2010

This communication from the NDS [News Distribution Services] is confidential and copyright. Anyone coming into unauthorised possession of it should disregard its content and erase it from their records".
Do all media releases from the government's News Distribution Services come with a "confidential" notice, asks the IPKat, or only those that contain information which is intended for publication? And why '2010', both cats wonder? Is the NDS looking back fondly to better times?

Leaking secrets here
Leaking boots here

4 comments:

Richard McD Bridge said...

A small pedantic voice asks what a "positive conviction" is.

Anonymous said...

Richard: I think an example of a positive conviction is believing that every cloud has a silver lining, that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and that it will turn out alright in the end...

Anonymous said...

It is comforting to know that UK law enforcement has so wisely set its priorities and is so effective in implementing them. No doubt this carefully planned deployment of substantial resources contributes immensely to the unique degree of respect for law and order that your country has come to exemplify in recent times in various aspects such as journalism and peaceable assembly.

The Report says:

As part of the survey respondents were asked to provide
figures for the resources that were dedicated to the
enforcement of IP crime in the period 2010-11. Out of
the 85 responses to this question, an average of 300
staff days per region was dedicated to the enforcement
of IP crime. LOTSA reported the highest average of
over 700 staff days being dedicated with half of that
being spent on middle management grades. This is
supported by the national average (per authority) of 85
days being devoted by middle management, followed by
44 days of junior grades and 29 days by senior officers.

Local figures did vary considerably with three authorities
recording over 1,000 days per year whilst 16 authorities
reported that no time was dedicated. In some cases
authorities did provide a nil return but indicated that they
had received some IP related training and this would
encourage more proactive engagement in 2011/12.

Anonymous said...

A small(er) pedantic voice ponders how you get just 75% positive convictions out of 80% guilty pleas. This pedantic voice also wonders how many are repeat offenders. The boss of the smaller pedantic voice says, "Get on with your proper work" !

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