The UK Intellectual Property Office and IP Crime Group’s latest annual IP Crime Report for 2015-2016 has been published and, according to data from the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), the UK is now the highest ranked country in the world for IP enforcement.

The GIPC commended the UK’s ‘high’ enforcement levels and its “highly advanced and sophisticated national IP environment”, as well as identifying several key strengths including:

  • Protection of trade secrets
  • Framework in place to promote action against online piracy
  • Digital Rights Management legislation
  • Commitment to and implementation of international treaties
  • Consistent, effective, and innovative border protection against counterfeited and pirated goods

It is estimated that up to 5% of all goods imported into the EU are counterfeit products, with a total value of up to €85 million.  Survey results from the UK’s Trading Standards Offices indicate that tobacco products remain the most investigated products in the UK, followed by clothing and alcohol.  Automotive parts are also an area where counterfeit goods represent a significant problem within the EU.  Whilst shops remain the most investigated locations, unsurprisingly, social media, websites and auction sites are also important routes used to sell products that infringe IP rights.

The UK has a network of IP authorities and enforcement agencies that work hard to raise IP awareness and to tackle IP Crime.  The close collaboration and cooperation between the IP owners or enforcement groups, such as Trademark and Rights Holders Against Piracy (TRAP), and the different organisations involved in combatting IP Crime in the UK and beyond, has brought excellent results in the UK.  

IP crime is a global issue and seizures at the UK border have been key to the successful IP enforcement in the UK.  The UK’s IP enforcement agencies have also developed strategies to deal with the growth in counterfeit goods sold, and pirated material shared, online and via social media, with significant successes over the past year. Almost 4000 domain names were suspended by Nominet (the official registry for UK domain names) for criminal activity.  There has also been a significant increase in takedowns of online market place listings on websites such as Amazon and eBay.  Over the past three years, just one of the UK agencies tackling IP crime, the Police IP Crime Unit (PIPCU), has suspended over 10,000 websites selling counterfeit goods, has investigated more than £33 million worth of IP crime, has seized more than £3 million worth of suspected fake goods, has diverted more than 11 million visits from copyright infringing sites, and has arrested 69 individuals.

This all demonstrates that the UK authorities are ready, willing and able to enforce IP rights, thereby adding significantly to the value of holding registered IP rights in the UK.  And there is a plan in place for further improvements in UK IP enforcement, recognising the contribution of creative industries to the UK economy and acknowledging that IP rights underpin investment in research and manufacturing, reward innovation in design and branding, and support creativity of all types.  Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the UK Minister for Intellectual Property, has confirmed that the UK is committed to protecting and enforcing these crucial IP rights, which are undermined and devalued on all fronts by infringement.

Our attorneys will be happy to advise not only on obtaining such rights but also on taking action against alleged infringers via the many routes available in the UK and beyond.

Useful resources: ACIDFACT