UK government lays out anti-IP crime strategy

The UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has published a document setting out its strategy to fight intellectual property crime over the next five years, which it says is a "step change" in the approach taken to date.

The report notes that infringement may take many forms, such as the production and consumption of illicit TV streaming services, music piracy, counterfeiting of goods and intentionally copying an IP-protected design.

Top of the list is the establishment of a national centre of excellence for gathering and analysing intelligence relating to IP infringement, so it can be used to guide and coordinate enforcement activity.

It also says there should be closer coordination between Trading Standards, Border Force and the Police, with personnel funded by the IPO embedded within these organisations to help them work together more effectively.

Other proposals include joining forces with the enforcement agencies to review how IP crime is recorded, beefing up the capabilities of the IP Crime Group, which is jointly chaired by the Police and the IPO, and developing awareness campaigns to reduce IP crime and infringement that will focus both those knowingly and unknowingly infringing.

The overall aim is to ensure that IP crime "is tackled coherently as a strategic economic and social threat - at home and internationally," according to the IPO.

According to the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, counterfeiting is now the second largest source of criminal income worldwide, second only to drugs.

"Our new strategy lays the groundwork for us to tackle IP crime and infringement in all areas, now and in the future," said IPO chief executive Tim Moss.

"Our commitments within the new strategy are exciting and ambitious, and we believe they will have a real impact in the fight against IP crime at regional, national and international levels," he added.

A 2019 report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated that the trade in counterfeit and pirated products amounted to as much as $461bn in 2019, which equals 2.5 per cent of world trade.

It also calculates that in 2016 at least 86,300 UK jobs were lost due to counterfeiting and piracy, representing 1.4 per cent of all full-time equivalent employees.

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