Counterfeiters broaden range of fake goodsReport warns of threat to consumers' safety

13 December 2007

The range of fake goods available in the UK is increasing, a new report says.

Counterfeit posters, vinyl records and mineral waters have all appeared in the UK, according to the Intellectual Property Crime Report.

Other fake goods detected include ID cards, batteries, vehicle number plates, quad bikes and iPod covers.

Counterfeit razor blades

The IP Crime report says the range of goods being copied and illegally reproduced '.. is growing, extending to such diverse products as counterfeit razor blades, motorbikes and crane spare parts.'

During 2006 the volume of counterfeit pharmaceutical products also increased, according to the report which was launched by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Dius) today.

Criminals are increasingly turning to the internet as a way of supplying fake goods on demand.

Clamping down

This means law enforcement agencies are under pressure to develop new expertise and methods of clamping down on intellectual property crime, the report says.

During 2006 as estimated two billion counterfeit cigarettes were sold in the UK, costing the UK taxpayer £2.9 billion in unpaid duty, figures from HM Revenue and Customs show.

In some cases fake goods such as pharmaceutical products can pose a threat to consumer safety.

Pirated goods

And evidence given to the report authors showed some criminals were using illegal immigrants to sell pirated goods.

Criminals dealing with fake goods were also found to be grooming children into a criminal lifestyle, the report says.

Intellectual property (IP) crime is the counterfeiting and piracy of trademarked and copyrighted products and services.

'Threat to economy'

The report warns: 'There appears to be a general acceptance in parts of the population that IP crime is an easy way to gain an affluent lifestyle.

'These activities are, in the main, driven by the consumers who demand a bargain.'

In a foreword to the report, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for intellectual property and quality Lord Triesman said the government considered IP crime a serious threat to the UK economy and a criminal activity.

'The biggest hurdle to overcome is to educate the general public that a 'bargain' does not always mean they are getting a good deal,' he said.

Successful prosecutions relating to IP crime have risen from 600 in 2004 to more than 1,000 per year, the report says.

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