Good news for brand owners as UK aims to be gold standard in IP Counter-Infringement Strategy
The UK IPO has published its five year strategy for protecting IP with the aim of ensuring that IP rights in the UK are some of the best protected in the world. The strategy intends to unite enforcement agencies, government and industry to work together to better tackle IP crime and infringement in a strategic and effective manner.
In particular, there are 5 key commitments from the UKIPO:
- to establish a national centre of excellence for the development and analysis of intelligence relating to IP infringement, placing this at the core of IP enforcement activity and ensuring it takes a central lead and coordination role in the fight against IP crime and infringement
- to work with Trading Standards, Border Force and the Police to embed IPO funded IP crime coordinators and champions in local regions to develop intelligence, coordinate activity and resource the fight against IP crime and infringement
- to work collaboratively with enforcement agencies to review how IP crime is recorded
- to develop the structures and membership of the IP Crime Group – enabling it to have a strategic and tactical enforcement focus across government, enforcement agencies and industry
- to develop impactful campaigns to reduce IP crime and infringement, working with partners and focusing on both those knowingly and unknowingly infringing
The UKIPO intends to achieve its commitments using an intelligence led focus that includes partnerships, leadership and education as its core themes.
The strategy will be welcomed by trade mark and design holders who often suffer from counterfeiters across a wide variety of sectors from life sciences to luxury goods, yet to date there has been relatively little budget for criminal prosecutions, despite there being criminal trade mark and design offences.
The lack of resource in various government agencies intended to fight these types of crimes and the fact that counterfeiting is often perceived as a low-risk crime has historically led to low levels of investigation and prosecution. Matters improved after the introduction of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) in 2013, who have had some impressive success in disrupting larger scale counterfeiting activities in the UK. However, cyber crime has become an increasing issue for businesses of all sizes and the ease with which websites can be opened and closed has presented particular challenges for brands seeking to enforce their IP rights. If, as the strategy intends, data could be standardised and pooled across enforcement agencies then this would be a positive step towards more effective enforcement moving forwards.