The Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, Home Secretary in the UK government, has used the occasion of a ministerial visit to the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) to comment on the effect IP crime has on legitimate business.
Accompanied by Lord Younger, Minister for the Intellectual Property Office and Mike Weatherley MP, Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, was given an insight into how PIPCU works with a wide host of partners, including national and international law enforcement agencies and government, to provide protection for UK businesses.
The group were met by City of London Police Commissioner, Adrian Leppard, and Commander Steve Head, Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime at the force’s Economic Crime Directorate in the City of London.
A key talking point was the work of Operation Creative; a pioneering partnership with the advertising and creative industries to prevent and disrupt copyright infringing sites. Alongside Operation Creative, the unit has also targeted websites selling fake goods and suspended more than 2,500 sites since September 2013.
Detectives at PIPCU also provided an update on the latest enforcement activity, including the recent investigation into counterfeit car paint application products, which led to the seizure of more than 2,500 boxes of fake goods believed to be worth over £100,000 and the arrest of three men across Oxfordshire and South Wales.
May said that intellectual property crime was not only a threat to legitimate business and the UK economy, but also to the public through the sale of unsafe counterfeit goods. “We have significantly strengthened our response to organised crime through the establishment of the National Crime Agency and publication of the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy. I was pleased to be given an insight into the Unit’s valuable work and its mutually beneficial relationships with the NCA and other law enforcement agencies,” she added.
City of London Police Commissioner, Adrian Leppard said the UK was renowned for being a world-leading creative hub. “From our critically-acclaimed film, music and gaming industry, to the innovators and entrepreneurs of our original and pioneering designs. However, these industries and businesses rely on the protection of their IP to ensure their ideas and products are not stolen,” he observed.
“We are really pleased to be able to welcome the Home Secretary, Lord Younger and Mike Weatherley to PIPCU today and talk about some of the work we are doing to protect those legitimate UK businesses that invest their time, effort and money in producing high quality goods and digital content and show how we are dedicated to combating those who exploit others intellectual property for their own financial gain.”
Lord Younger said IP crime was complex and fast evolving. “From counterfeit goods to digital piracy, it channels money away from legitimate businesses and harms consumers. PIPCU plays a key role in cracking down on this crime through innovative operations such as Operation Creative, making sure that IP delivers for industry, business and the wider economy. I am delighted to see their excellent work first hand and witness how they are at the forefront in fighting IP crime .”
Weatherley expressed his delight that the Home Secretary had come to see for herself the “excellent” work that PIPCU undertakes in its efforts to tackle IP crime. “This dedicated national crime unit is a highly-impressive initiative that I hope will be able to continue and even expand its operations over the coming years. Commander Steve Head, who leads the PIPCU team, deserves praise for his stellar work.”