The amount of crime involving intellectual property has fallen significantly over the past year, with government reforms increasing small business confidence towards its legal system.
Good news to SME owners
According to the government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the number of intellectual property (IP) crimes reported to watchdog Crimestoppers has fallen over the 12 months.
The IP Crime Report 2014/15 underlines the measures put in place to combat intellectual property crime and how enforcement officers are succeeding in their war against it.
The document shows that enforcement bodies are proving particularly successful in local markets, with tobacco, clothing, alcohol, footwear and DVDs remaining the most counterfeited products in the UK.
This will come as good news to small business owners, who are failing to protect their ideas and intellectual property.
In June SME Insider reported on a study conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) which found that 25 per cent of SME owner have suffered some form of intellectual property violation within the last five years.
Intellectual property crimes can really affect small businesses, with the FSB finding that one in three small organisations who own some form of intellectual property rights rely on it for 75 to 100 per cent of their revenue.
‘IP crime is not victimless’
Now that the IPO has cracked down on intellectual property crimes, the faith that SME owners once had in the legal system has been restored.
The report claims that ‘‘the reforms have resulted in a substantial increase in case counts for all IP rights at IPEC, leading to the conclusion that the ability of both SMEs and individuals to gain access to justice has greatly improved.’’
Baroness Neville-Rolfe has been the government’s minister for Intellectual Property since May 2015, and has already seen some improvements as to how IP crime is being dealt with.
‘‘IP Crime is not victimless. It includes the public buying counterfeit alcohol and cigarettes which can even be fatal. Some car boot sales and markets can be crime hot-spots and we have seen growth in counterfeit goods being sold on social media.’’
‘‘The IP Crime Group report raises awareness of the dangers and consequences of counterfeiting and copyright infringement. I am grateful to the group for its good work.’’
Counterfeit goods are traditionally sold within car boot sales, street stalls and pubs and clubs, but now technology is playing an ever increasing role in the promotion of this illegal activity. IPO officers have found that social media is now being used to promote the sale of high value counterfeits such as handbags, watches and electrical items.
Giles York, IP crime lead for the Association of Chief Police Officers and Sussex police chief constable explained that co-ordinated action is the key to beating intellectual property crime.
‘‘By working together the IP Crime Group continues to bring focus and determination into the fight against IP crime, and this report shows the welcome effect that is having.’’
‘‘There are many challenges ahead, particularly in tackling the online sale of counterfeit goods, but we hope that next year will bring even more success in reducing this problem.’’