IP crime falling, says UK government

IPO UKThe number of intellectual property (IP) crimes reported in the UK over the last year has fallen, but there is a growing threat from social media, according to just-published government data.

The figures released by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) show that tobacco, clothing, alcohol, footwear and DVDs are still the most frequently investigated counterfeit products, with strong links to benefit fraud, organised crime, drug dealing and violence.

While shops remained at the top of the list of locations investigated for counterfeit goods, social media was ranked second, ahead of websites, private residences, auction sites and markets/car boot sales.

The growing threat from social media is being challenged by the AntiCounterfeiting Group (ACG), a collaboration between police, Trading Standards and industry, said Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolf.

She cited initiatives such as Operation Jasper, which has resulted in the take-down of 4,300 Facebook listings and 20 Facebook profiles, as well as resulting in more than 200 warning letters and 24 cease-and-desist letters during the year.

All told, there were 2,277 reports submitted by the Crimestoppers service to the IPO intelligence hub in 2014-2015,and the UK Border Force detained 1.6m IP-infringing items with an estimated £56m ($85m).

Meanwhile, 1.75m requests were made to Google to remove links to copyright-protected material, and the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) diverted 11m views from pirate websites to an official police warning page.

Baroness Neville-Rolf stressed however that there is more to do. "By its very nature, IP crime is challenging to detect and to counter. It is also highly adaptable and moves rapidly to take advantage of vulnerabilities in technology, legal frameworks and financial systems."

The top five countries of origin for IP-infringing goods were China, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan and Turkey, according to the report.

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