A new report has recommended that the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) should team up with other organisations in its efforts to crack down on the rising threat of organised crime and illicit trade.
In its report, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) says that more needs to be done to tackle crimes relating to counterfeiting and piracy, as well as illegal trade involving tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical products.
Following in the footsteps of Scotland, the APPG has suggested that an ‘Anti-Illicit Trade Group’ should be established, which would see the IPO work alongside a number of key Government and law enforcement associations, as well as relevant industry groups.
The report cites Scotland’s Anti-Illicit Trade Group as a case study, highlighting the fact that Scotland’s initiative saw £29 million worth of illicit goods seized from criminals within just 18 months of operation.
The group, which has been active in Scotland since November 2017, is made up of the likes of Police Scotland, Trading Standards Scotland, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Border Force and many more – and the APPG feels strongly that England should follow a similar example.
The APPG’s report also suggests that, should its recommendations be taken on board, a ‘UK National Lead’ should be appointed to co-ordinate the new Anti-Illicit Trade Group and the collaboration of different law enforcement and Government departments.
Commenting on the proposals, Tim Moss, Chief Executive at the Intellectual Property Office, said: “The UK has one of the best IP enforcement regimes in the world and the IPO’s enforcement strategy strongly supports this.
“The new group will provide an excellent opportunity for the Intellectual Property Office to make more progress in this area and help bring together key partners from across the UK to tackle this problem.”
He added: “Money made from selling counterfeit goods is fed into serious and organised crime. It’s vital that we work together to fight against these criminals and protect consumers. This new group will help achieve this and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.”
BJ Chong, a Partner with Palmers who specialises in intellectual property law, said: “Illicit trading and pirated goods is not a victimless crime. Companies large and small commit significant resources to designing and developing goods which, if ‘knocked-off’ will have a drastic effect on their profitability and future sustainability to continue trading.
“Although the APPG is calling for a joined-up approach to organised IP crime, many businesses may unwittingly commit an IP infringement.
“The rules relating to IP can be confusing, complex and costly if you get it wrong – so it’s worth taking advice from a specialist IP solicitor.”
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