This press release was issued by the UK Government shortly after lunch today.
A blueprint to crackdown on the trade in fake goods was launched today by Industry Minister, Jacqui Smith, as she unveiled the UK's first intellectual property crime strategy. Intellectual property crime cheats consumers, costs jobs and helps fund organised crime. Piracy and counterfeiting, including DVDs, perfumes, clothing and alcohol, costs the UK economy billions of pounds and undermines the success of many of the UK's best companies.

Today's national strategy, developed by the Patent Office, brings
together brand owners, police, trading standards and customs to

* increase the sharing of intelligence between different agencies; * improve training for those working at the front-line;
* better co-ordinate the agencies involved in the fight against
intellectual property crime and
* monitor progress and success by publishing an annual national enforcement report.

Jacqui Smith, Industry Minister, said: "Pirates and bootleggers cheat consumers and place a drain on our economy. We cannot and we will not simply turn a blind eye to copyright and trade mark crime. "Intellectual property crime is not victimless. As well as cheating consumers, the trade in counterfeit goods costs UK companies billions of pounds and thousands of jobs every year. That is why we are working together with industry and law enforcement agencies to clamp down on this illegal trade."

Lord Sainsbury, Minister for Science and Innovation, said: "I am greatly heartened by the speed with which the Patent Office has been able to pull together such a broad range of interests so quickly to deliver this important strategy. Clearly a common purpose is shared by the police, customs, trading standards and many brand owners to co-ordinate their efforts to best effect. This bodes well for our fight against IP crime."

The chairman of EMI Group, Eric Nicoli, is the music industry
representative on the Government's recently founded Creative Industries IP Forum. He said: "We are very encouraged that the Government is taking steps to help Britain's creative industries tackle the theft of intellectual property and we welcome this latest enforcement initiative from the Patent Office."

Bryan Lewin, TSI Lead Officer for Intellectual Property at the Trading Standards Institute said: "Counterfeiting is a global business run by highly-organised serious criminals using it as a low-risk way of laundering money and raising funds for other criminal activities. To tackle crime at this level, Trading Standards, the industry and other enforcement agencies must adopt an equally organised and co-ordinated approach. The National IP Crime Strategy will help to achieve this objective."

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group is one of the many organisations working with the Patent Office. ACG Director General Ruth Orchard said: "Rights owners estimate that last year alone counterfeiting and piracy cost the UK economy £10 billion and 4,000 jobs. With this strategy in place, and the goodwill fostered by all the partners, we have a real chance to take the fight back to the criminal gangs who are defrauding consumers and rights owners."

The IPKat can't help being somewhat cynical in the face of this sudden determination to fight IP crime. The case for fighting fakes and those who make them is no stronger now, in moral, economic or social terms than it has been been for the past 30 years, during which time the needs and interests of IP owners and consumers have been routinely ignored. Is it because the government has finally woken up to the amount of tax it loses? Or because the ties between illicit trade and terrorism -- or at least a serious risk that they exist -- now give more cause for concern? Until actual resources are pumped into the fight on fakes, and IP owners are relieved of the almost exclusive responsibility of having to police their own rights, the IPKat will be reluctant to believe that anything has changed.


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