According to the US Chamber of Commerce, the UK is now the
highest ranked country for IP enforcement, a clear reflection of
the continued hard-work and commitment by enforcement agencies in
tackling IP Crime.
This finding is published in the UK Intellectual Property Office
and IP Crime Group's latest annual IP Crime Report 2015-2016,
available on the UK IPO's website. The
report sets out the work conducted, as well as the various
successes achieved, in combatting IP crime over the past 12
The problem of IP crime globally remains considerable. Recent
statistics estimate that counterfeit products in the EU amount to
up to 5 per cent of all EU imports, worth up to €85 million.
Counterfeit goods are said to cost the automotive industry in
particular around £28 billion a year, resulting in a loss of
2.5 million jobs globally. Money laundering, benefit fraud and
organised crime are the top three criminal activities linked to IP
The report shows that China and Hong Kong continue to be
particular 'hot spot' areas, as the majority of infringing
goods seized at the UK border originate from these countries.
Survey results from Trading Standards Offices indicate that
cigarettes/tobacco remain the most investigated products, with
clothing and alcohol making up the top three. Whilst ordinary shops
remain the most investigated location, social media, websites and
auction sites all feature highly.
Indeed, developments in technology have meant that social media
and online platforms are increasingly used as vehicles for
intellectual property infringement. Accordingly, IP enforcement
agencies have had to react and adapt strategies to deal with the
growth in counterfeit goods sold, and pirated material shared,
online and via social media; various successes of these enforcement
teams are reflected in the report. For example:
Almost 4000 domain names were
suspended by Nominet for criminal activity.
Over the past three years, the Police
IP Crime Unit (PIPCU) has suspended over 10,000 websites selling
counterfeit goods and has arrested 69 individuals.
84 per cent of online market place
takedowns reported by Trademark and Rights Holders Against Piracy
(TRAP) relate to Amazon or eBay listings.
Overall, the report reinforces the importance of
interconnectivity – close contact and collaboration between
brand owners and enforcement groups, as well as between partner
organisations, both in the UK and internationally. The figures and
studies demonstrate that close collaboration between these groups
is largely to thank for the successes achieved to date in
combatting IP Crime.
Whilst the UK may have voted to leave the EU back in June 2016,
it seems clear from the Report that the UK will look to continue to
work closely with its EU counterparts in order to tackle the
threats posed by IP crime.
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1.The trade mark shall not entitle the proprietor to prohibit its use in relation to goods which have been put on the market in the Community under that trade mark by the proprietor or with his consent.
The UK government has not yet invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (this is likely to happen by the end of March), and the UK's actual exit from the European Union is at least two years away.
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