UK Government explains how it’s tackling IP crime in latest report

IP crime report article

During 2016, over 2 million suspected infringing counterfeit goods were detained by border force. IP crime not only impacts the UK economy but also undermines legitimate businesses who work hard to innovate.

The IP crime report details the key trends in IP crime from 2016 to 2017 and the initiatives that the Government has set to counter it.

The IP Crime Report identifies the key trends in IP crime:

  • Social media platforms and auction sites, especially Facebook Marketplace and Instagram, are being used to bring counterfeit goods directly to consumers.
  • “Fulfilment Houses” are being used to facilitate the importation of counterfeit and unsafe goods, along with legitimate goods. They are used to bypass UK laws and border checks, and conceal the country of origin of products from UK consumers.
  • The online trend of illicit streaming devices is an emerging threat which undermines the creative film and TV industries.

These threats are being met with a range of approaches, including agreements between IP rights holders and search engines, new legislation, international agreements and educating consumers about the importance of IP rights.

In 2016, the Government published a four-year IP strategy to ensure that effective IP rights remain a priority.

The Government’s objectives ensure that:

  • UK businesses are more confident in operating internationally, as a result of better IP protection globally
  • Rights owners and users have access to proportionate and effective mechanisms, to solve IP disputes and tackle infringement
  • Consumers and users are educated about the benefits of respecting IP rights

New legislation ensures the penalty for online IP infringement is equal to the penalty for IP infringement of physical goods

The Government is increasing prison sentences for infringers. Through new legislation set out in the Digital Economy Act 2017, prison sentences for online copyright infringement has been increased to 10 years—which is now the same as the penalty for IP infringement of physical goods.

The Government is working with search engines and social media to tackle IP crime

Over 490 million URLs with infringing content on search engines have been referred to Google and Bing, and 63 infringing websites have been blocked through Court Orders. Furthermore, the UK interactive entertainment (Ukie) report states that 150,000 suspicious links have been reported, with 85% of those removed.

Operation Jasper is one of the biggest enforcement operations in the UK. It’s targeting criminals who exploit social media channels, such as Facebook Marketplace, to sell counterfeit goods and commit IP offences.  This has led to 12,000 listings of counterfeit goods being removed from Facebook.

The Government has introduced agreements globally

The Government has continued judicial exchanges with China and has IPO attachés in India, Brazil, Geneva and South East Asia. This will help develop an understanding of the challenges posed by illicit streaming devices. The IPO is also working with WIPO, EUIPO, EPO and the European Commission to deliver IP enforcement training worldwide.

Consumers are being educated on the importance of IP

To educate the public about the importance of IP rights, the IPO has introduced “Cracking Ideas”—an educational IP hub. It brings together materials covering all forms of IP to educate the public—mainly children from key stage 1 to 4.


Want to learn more about IP crime in the UK? Join our webinar with Miles Rees, Senior Enforcement Agent at the IPO, covering the IP Crime Report in more detail.

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