Tackling the trade in counterfeit goods requires the cooperation and coordination of a wide range of enforcement partners. For example, there are opportunities to work with the Local Government Association, local authorities and Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure that the harm caused at a local level is understood and enforcement is prioritised accordingly. IPO has a key role to play in acting as the focal point in the UK for collecting data on trends and emerging issues, and working with its partners to find appropriate ways to address these issues. IPO will build on its current work in this area, to provide a coordinating and supporting role to those bodies on the front line. IPO will do this by:
- Continuing to provide a dedicated intelligence hub to support the delivery of key objectives under the Home Office Serious and Organised Crime Strategy.
- Continuing to invest resources in helping those countries identified as key sources of counterfeit goods improve their IP laws, identify criminals and stem the flow of illegal goods to the UK.
- Encouraging the use of the UK Poise framework – a framework for future IP enforcement initiatives created by IPO – among international organisations such as Europol, Interpol, OLAF, EUIPO and the UN to help protect IP rights in the UK.
- Helping to develop broader disruption measures with law enforcement agencies and regulatory authorities to make IP crime less attractive for criminals. This includes encouraging the increased use of POCA in IP investigations to ensure that money spent in the UK on counterfeit goods is identified, seized and assets removed from criminals, and work with HMRC to tackle unpaid tax and duty on IP infringing goods, for the benefit of the UK treasury.
The movement of counterfeit goods into the UK and the EU represents substantial logistical problems in terms of volume, especially at postal and parcel hubs. Project Poise seeks to disrupt the entire supply chain and extend the point of discovery beyond UK borders so the flow is reduced, but every effort is being made to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Border Force resources to maximize the capability of intervention there. A key driver for change is the ‘One Government, One Border’ strategy focused on streamlining import and export procedures to support economic growth in the UK. Close engagement with this will lead to better enforcement across the many agencies that have responsibilities at borders.
The scope and procedural requirements of the current EU customs IPR enforcement legislation have an impact on the extent of interventions at UK ports. IPO will investigate ways of simplifying and enhancing opportunities for interventions and powers to seize counterfeit goods at the UK border. This will include examining the roles and responsibilities of rights holders, the administrative and recording requirements and the use of enhanced technology. The sharing, analysis and use of data and intelligence from border interventions, foreign sources and inland resources will be used to maximize the potential of subsequent action in the UK and beyond to contribute to stemming the flow of counterfeit and infringing goods.