UK scheme pledges crackdown on fakes sold on social media

A UK scheme has been developed to protect consumers and small businesses from counterfeit goods sold on social media groups.

The Real Deal Online programme – developed by the National Markets Group for IP Protection (NMG) in conjunction with the National Trading Standards eCrime Team (NTSeCT) – aims to “create greater awareness amongst administrators of local social media groups of their legal responsibility to prevent the promotion and sale of counterfeit goods and other illicit products within their groups.”

It will be rolled out by local Trading Standards and creates a conduit between the enforcement organisations and the administrators of social media “buy-and-sell” groups, such as those on Facebook, where counterfeits are being sold. Trading Standards can then draw their attention to best practices that can help them keep knock-offs from being sold.

Groups can use a Real Deal logo, providing they agree to operate in adherence to five basic principles:

  • To prohibit the sale of counterfeit and other illicit goods;
  • To act on information from intellectual poperty rights owners and their representatives who highlight the sale of illegal goods;
  • To notify trading standards if they believe that illegal goods are being sold within the group and to exclude the sellers of these goods;
  • To highlight warnings and advice notices posted by trading standards; and
  • To make sure that all members of the group are aware of its fake-free policy

The scheme is already being taken considered by dozens of local Trading Standards authorities, after a successful pilot in North Yorkshire. Seven social media buy-and-sell groups in the region, with a total of more than 41,000 members, agreed to the Real Deal Code of Practice and now display the logo on their selling pages.

The UK’s IP Minister, Sam Gyimah, welcomed the initiative, saying: “The UK is rich with talented creators and innovators, and we must protect their intellectual property rights both online and offline. Social media can be a force for good making it easier for users to buy and sell goods, however with this can come an increase of counterfeit goods and other illegal products.”

“This is why I welcome this initiative, that brings together industry, Trading Standards and local government to help protect legitimate businesses and allow rightsholders to reap the benefits of their own creations.”

In recent months, Operation Jasper, a UK-wide, joint public-private sector enforcement operation which targets the sale of counterfeit goods on social media, has resulted in the issue of over 100 warrants and take-down of 12,000 adverts for fake goods on social media selling groups.

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