The Group was formed by the IPO in 2004 to "bring together experts from industry, enforcement agencies and government to work together on piracy and counterfeiting issues".
Along with many official reports, more context would be nice. The report boasts that "More people than ever before are being successfully prosecuted for committing intellectual property crime in the UK", that "75 per cent of all criminal copyright cases end in a positive conviction" and that "80 per cent of all IP crime cases result in guilty plea prosecutions against the defendants". Regrettably there is no indication of how many offences don't make it to court, and whether many of the 'no-shows' are attributable to lack of resources for vigorous and effective prosecution.
The report characterises IP Crime as "the counterfeiting of trade marked goods such as clothes and the piracy of copyright material such as CDs and DVDs". Its authors indicate an increase in the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods over the net during the year. It also suggests there has been a decline in IP crime at venues such as outdoor markets.
Notably, it identifies highlights the significance of the Proceeds of Crime Act in dealing with "piracy and counterfeiting". Last year the Trading Standards arm of the London Borough of Enfield secured an £11 million confiscation order, one of the largest ever secured by a local council under that statute. The order followed successful prosecution of a local man in 2008 after seizure of a mere 30,000 pairs of counterfeit Burberry shoes. The defendant was also involved in a £72 million VAT fraud.
Six people were jailed for a combined total of 56 years for involvement in production of 1.3 million litres of vodka, ie infringing trade marks in 24 brands with an estimated value of £16 million.
The report notes that -
A man has been jailed for eight years after an investigation into the importation of fake cancer and other life saving drugs. Following a trial at Croydon Crown Court lasting four months and involving the most serious known breach of the UK regulated supply chain, a 64 year old man from Windsor, Berkshire was found guilty of all charges on 8th April 2011 and was sentenced to eight years imprisonment. Four other men on trial for their involvement were acquitted.Less alarmingly from a public safety perspective -
The case, known as Operation Singapore, involved the infiltration of counterfeit medicine into the UK legitimate supply chain during a five-month period in 2007. More than two million doses of fake life-saving drugs were imported into the UK and, although more than half of these were seized by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), almost 900,000 doses reached pharmacies and patients.
The MHRA carried out an immediate recall of Zyprexa (used for the treatment of psychosis), Plavix (used for the prevention of blood clots) and Casodex (used for the treatment of prostate cancer) and, as a result, a further 196,000 doses were recovered; however 700,000 doses were unaccounted for.
The tablets were manufactured in China and were transported to the UK via Singapore and Belgium. Further work on the products, to improve their appearance for UK supply, was undertaken at an industrial unit in Basingstoke where they were transferred into outer cardboard boxes to remove all evidence of their origin. The products, now purporting to come from Luxembourg but manufactured in France, were then supplied to two licensed UK wholesalers who, in turn, sold them on into the supply chain where they were eventually dispensed by unsuspecting pharmacists to UK patients
Five men who had admitted possession of an infringing article with a view to sale (under Section 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994) were convicted for their part in smuggling 25 tonnes of low quality fake washing powder in to the country and storing it at a warehouse in Cheshire. Flat pack boxes along with individual nine kilogramme bags of detergent were found.
Three of the men received sentences of 12 months in prison and another two were both given six month prison sentences suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. A sixth man found guilty of the same offence was jailed for two years. Following a confiscation hearing attended by the five men, they were ordered to hand over more than £37,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The sixth man was due to attend a confiscation hearing at a later date