UK IP crime survey finds clothing is top target for counterfeiters

Piracy imageA survey of trading standards authorities in the UK has found that clothing was the number one counterfeit category investigated by officers in 2010/11, followed by tobacco products, DVDs, footwear and alcohol.

Counterfeit clothing cases were investigated by 88 per cent of the trading standards authorities, with CDs, watches/jewellery, computer games, cosmetics, software, fake labels/packaging and toys all investigated by 20 per cent of authorities or more.

Other notable categories including batteries (16 per cent), medical products (8 per cent), computer parts (7 per cent) and vehicle parts (3 per cent), according to the survey, which was conducted by the UK IP Crime Group and published in the organisation's annual report.

Trends noted in the survey included an increase in cases involving fake alcoholic products - up from 25 per cent to 64 per cent in the survey - and a decrease in cases involving fake software.

Interestingly, there was a near 50:50 split between online and bricks-and-mortar shops for distribution of counterfeit goods, although a key trend was the increased use of social networking sites to offer fake goods for sale or direct people to pirated material.

"With online technologies offering ever increasing consumer choices, options for those involved in IP crime are equally mirrored," commented Deputy Chief Constable Giles York of Sussex Police, who serves as chair of the IP Crime Group.

"We are witnessing criminals offering online access to live events, electronic media and more with greater ease than ever before (as a result of high speed broadband) and fraudulent websites enticing and misleading consumers into buying fake products."

York also noted that the IP Crime Group achieved a number of successes last year, including development of a toolkit that describes how counterfeit products can enter the genuine supply chain and how businesses can enforce their IP assets; an electronic guide that describes to businesses how intellectual property can be infringed in the workplace; and "coordination of training and awareness activities that support group members, industry bodies and law enforcement officials."

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