A new police unit aimed at targeting intellectual property crime in the UK has been established in a co-operation between the Intellectual Property Office and the City of London Police.
The unit will be dedicated to tackling online piracy and other forms of intellectual property crime such as counterfeit goods. It will be one of the first units of its kind in the world, ensuring that the UK stays at the forefront of intellectual property enforcement.
The Intellectual Property Office will provide £2.5 million in funding over two years to the City of London Police, which is the National Lead Force for fraud, to establish and run the unit. It is expected the unit will be up and running in September 2013.
The UK Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger, said that intellectual property crime had long been a problem in the world of physical goods, but with the growing use of the internet, online intellectual property crime was now an increasing threat to the creative industries. “These industries are worth more than £36 billion a year and employ more than 1.5 million people. Government and our law enforcement agencies must do all they can to protect our creative industries and the integrity of consumer goods. By working with the City of London Police, who have recognised expertise in tackling economic crime, we are showing how committed this Government is to supporting business and delivering economic growth,” he explained.
The Commissioner of the City of London Police, Adrian Leppard, noted that intellectual property crime was costing the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds each year, with organised crime gangs causing significant damage to industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content in an increasingly competitive climate.
“The establishment of a new online intellectual property crime unit is evidence of the Government and City of London Police’s commitment to confront this threat. Together we are creating an operationally independent police unit that will co-ordinate the national and international response from law enforcement and public and private sector partners so we can effectively target those who continue to illegally profiteer on the back of others endeavours. In doing so, we will also be safeguarding jobs and protecting people’s personal and computer safety by ensuring they are not exposed to counterfeit goods and unauthorised copyrighted content,” he declared.
Around seven million people a month visit sites offering illegal content in the UK. Globally, it is projected that digitally pirated music, films and software will account for losses of around $80 billion – this is expected to rise to $240 billion by 2015. According to The Creative Coalition’s TERA Report (2010), if nothing is done about copyright infringement, up to a quarter of a million jobs in the UK could be at risk by 2015.
The intention to set the unit up was announced by the UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, in December 2012.