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24.05.16 - Phil Lewis, ACG Strategy Adviser

New European IP Office - Observatory report on "The economic cost of IPR infringement in recorded music industry"

The UK Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG), which represents around 3,000 international brands, welcomes this vital new study from the European Intellectual Property Office.

For many years’ businesses across the world have struggled to convince governments of the huge economic and social damage caused by the manufacture and dissemination of counterfeit and pirated products.  This independent report, covering just one business sector, clearly supports what industry has been saying for so long about the massive global impact that counterfeiting and piracy has for industry, culture and our economies.

The study confirms that in the EU, during 2014, the recorded music industry lost approximately €170 million in direct sales revenue due to music piracy. This resulted in the loss of 892 jobs. However, the knock on effect has been even more alarming, as losses in related industries brought the total to a staggering €336 million in sales, 2,155 jobs and a €63 million shortfall in government revenue. Money which could have been used for vital public services.

In 2014, the 3 most affected countries were the UK, Germany and France, which together accounted for 73% of the total sales lost within the EU. The UK industry alone, lost almost £38 million.

Alison Statham, ACG Director of Operations said, “26% of all employment in the EU is now directly generated by intellectual property related industries. In the UK, the music industry contributes a massive amount to our financial well being. In 2014 alone the industry added £4.1bn to the UK economy and 117,000 full time jobs. Both Europol and Interpol confirm that this money is all too often diverted to criminal international networks and used to fund other forms of criminality such as illegal trafficking of people, drugs and arms. Fighting this insidious form of illegality is essential if we are to dismantle organised crime and protect vital, creative resources which help to power our prosperity and safeguard our financial future.

ACG hope that this report will help to expose the worldwide economic and social harm of counterfeiting and piracy, and change the overall perception that counterfeiting and piracy is an innocent business”.

The full report can be found HERE

21.04.16 - Phil Lewis, ACG Strategy Adviser

Joint EU Intellectual Property Office - OECD Mapping Report on the Economic Impact of the Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated goods

On 18th April the EUIPO1 and OECD2 published their much-awaited joint findings on the global impact of counterfeiting and piracy.

Why is this report so important? Firstly, it has been jointly carried out by two, respected, international public bodies using unique data sets provided by prestigious bodies such as the World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Commission's DG Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD), the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Customs and Border Protection Agency and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department. Secondly, it is a wholly independent report based on widely accepted and agreed methodologies, which can be used in future studies to track key trends and variations.

In brief, the study reveals that, in 2013 the trade in counterfeiting and pirated goods amounted to 2.5 % of all world commerce. In financial terms this equates to USD 461 billion, which is equivalent to the GDP of Austria, or the combined GDP's of Ireland and the Czech Republic. This paints an even bleaker picture than the previous OECD report, which was published in 2008 and estimated that counterfeit and pirated goods accounted for 1.9 % of world imports (around USD 200 billion).

Working together for over a year, the two teams of experts have put figures together that have firmly established that 5% of all goods imported into the EU in 2013 were fake and that the EU is a clear target for organised networks of criminal counterfeiters. Moreover, their data confirms that the range of counterfeit products has been continually expanding with machines, chemicals, auto parts, toys, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and foodstuffs joining the more traditional high end consumer fakes such as watches, perfumes and leather goods.

It will be no surprise to rights holders that the EUIPO and OECD findings also reveal that counterfeit and pirated products originate in most continents, but that China and Hong Kong are the largest producing economies. However, the customs data used in the study also flag up that many other countries are contributing to the problem. To name but a few, these include Afghanistan, Greece, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritius, Panama, Malaysia, Senegal, Pakistan, Serbia, Singapore, Thailand, the Syrian Arab Republic, Suriname and Turkey.

The overriding conclusion is that the worldwide trade in counterfeit and pirated goods has not diminished since the previous OECD report, in 2008, instead it has become an even greater threat for modern knowledge-based economies. However, there is much more to be found in this very detailed report, which is available HERE 

In the circumstances, ACG calls on the UK Government to fully acknowledge the study findings and recognise the need to enhance our enforcement resources to properly tackle this scourge, which is destroying businesses and jobs and cutting off vital revenue, which could be used to build and improve public services throughout the country.

11.02.16 - Phil Lewis, ACG Strategy Adviser

Latest OHIM Observatory impact reports on the manufacture of counterfeit jewellery, watches, handbags and luggage

Today the EU Observatory on infringements of Intellectual Property Rights[1] released its latest reports on the impact of counterfeiting throughout the EU.

Over the past year the Observatory has published a series of such reports[2] highlighting the importance of IP to society and the effect of counterfeiting and piracy in a range of vulnerable sectors.

So far, the publications have included a first “Situation Report” on counterfeiting in the European Union, and four major impact reports about the clothing, footwear and accessories sector, the cosmetics and personal care sector, the sporting goods sector and, more recently, the toys and games sector. These studies have now been followed up by detailed analyses of the costs and impacts of counterfeiting in the “Jewellery and Watches”[3] and, “Handbags and Luggage”[4] sectors.

Why is the Observatory doing this and how can these reports help? Well, we clearly need an independent view, if only to counter the arguments that impact reports and statements have traditionally been written by those who would seem to benefit the most.

As these reports are being produced by a “public body”, they tend to have more credence and influence with government and enforcement. Secondly, the methodology being used by the Observatory and its partners is clear and consistent, which means they can aggregate statistics and provide more reliable overall forecasts. Moreover, the resources the Observatory has at its disposal means that figures can be continually revisited and updated. As a result, we will be in a better position to attract and focus our enforcement resources.

The latest reports once again reveal the huge damage that results from counterfeiting. Across both sectors the annual loss in government revenue, in EU countries, is estimated to be €1.1 billion. In addition, 27,000 jobs have been directly lost, because manufacturers have simply employed fewer people than they would have done in the absence of counterfeiting.

The biggest loser is Italy where the handbags and luggage manufacturing sector loses €520 million every year as a result of counterfeiting. Italy is also the largest producer of jewellery in the EU and its jewellery and watches manufacturing sector annually loses approximately €400 million.

However, the effect on the UK is also significant. Our handbag and luggage-manufacturing sector annually loses ₤149 million, as a result of counterfeit products, which is nearly 12% of all sales. In addition, the UK’s jewellery and watches manufacturing industry loses ₤138 million annually as a direct result of counterfeiting.

Alison Statham, ACG Director of Operations said, “Contrary to the common belief that both sectors are dominated by big business, they are, in fact, largely made up of small businesses, which employ fewer than ten people. The impact of counterfeiting, in this context, is devastating.

The UK needs small and medium enterprises and the jobs and skills base they provide. Failing to properly protect and enforce the IP rights of such businesses in the UK is not acceptable because it simply makes it more difficult for them to scale up their companies than it might do outside of the EU. 

Both Europol and Interpol recognise counterfeiting as an extremely dangerous, multinational, organised crime activity, with links to sinister networks across the world. In the UK we have notorious hotspots such as Wellesbourne, in Stratford, and Cheetham Hill in Manchester. These are now, recognised “black markets” for illegal fake goods, worth millions of pounds every year, and focal points for criminality. Sales of fakes in areas such as these are destroying the UK’s international reputation for fair trade and investment. They also undermine community safety and result in massive losses in public revenue, trade and jobs.

ACG hopes that these new reports will help to destroy the myth that counterfeiting only harms big businesses. We need to expose the truth about the wider economic and social harm of counterfeiting, and in so doing help to change the overall perception that counterfeiting is an innocent business. 

14.12.15 - Phil Lewis, ACG Strategy Adviser

Major OHIM Observatory report on "The economic cost of IPR infringement in the toys and games sector"

ACG welcomes this important new study from the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), the EU’s intellectual property agency HERE.  

Over the years ACG has been making every effort to convince governments and enforcers of the growing dangers associated with counterfeiting, which damages our economy, destroys jobs and, feeds organised criminal gangs that are often involved in trafficking drugs, firearms and people. This report confirms the economic damage caused by this menacing trade, in just one sector. 

The OHIM study, which only focuses on manufacturing, calculates that approximately €1.4 billion is lost to EU member states every year, as a result of counterfeit toys and games. This equates to over 6,000 jobs, and €370 million in government revenue, which could be used for essential public services.

99% of the toys and games sector is made up of small and medium sized businesses and in the UK alone, over 12% of jobs and £174 million is annually lost, due to counterfeiting. After Germany, this is the second highest in the EU.

Both Europol and Interpol have recognised counterfeiting as an extremely dangerous, multinational criminal activity, with links to sinister networks across the world.  However, this latest independent report OHIM signals the wider economic impact and social harm being created by the criminals involved.

Alison Statham, ACG Director of Operations said, “the amount of revenue and lost jobs due to counterfeiting in the toys and games sector is shocking, but the thought of children waking up on Christmas morning to stockings full of dangerous fakes is frightening. Consumers need to be aware that at Christmas time they are particularly vulnerable. Counterfeiters have no morals or conscience and are only interested in cashing in on the sale of substandard junk toys and games, which are manufactured without any regard for safety standards and are often extremely dangerous.

The message to UK consumers is “buyer beware”. What may look like bargains at internet and social media sites and locations such as Wellesbourne, in Stratford, and Cheetham Hill in Manchester, may well put your family and friends at very serious risk.

ACG hopes that this 4th OHIM report will further expose the worldwide economic, social harm of counterfeiting, and in so doing help to change the overall perception that counterfeiting is an innocent business. “

This is the fourth report in a series of studies, undertaken by OHIM, to reveal the economic impact of counterfeiting in numerous industrial sectors in the EU. In March, OHIM published the first study in the series, which looked at the economic impact of fake cosmetics and personal care items. This was followed, in July, by a similar report on fake clothes, shoes and accessories (including fake sportswear). September saw the publication of a third report which focused on sport equipment.

Each report centres on a sector known to be particularly vulnerable to counterfeiting.

The most recent European Commission report based on EU wide customs figures reinforces the extent of the problem, highlighting that more than 95,000 detention cases were registered across EU borders in 2014. This resulted in seizures of over 36 million products which included items for daily use in the home, such as toys, body care articles, medicines and electrical household goods. The equivalent value being estimated to be just over 617 million euro. The Commission believes that the volume of detentions is abetted by a huge number of small parcels arriving via express and postal traffic; probably as a result of internet sales.

11.12.15 - Phil Lewis, ACG Strategy Adviser

MarkMonitor research reveals that 24% of consumers have been deceived by counterfeiters when shopping online

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG), which represents companies with over 2,700 international brands, congratulates MarkMonitor, on this crucial report.

Over the years ACG has been striving to convince governments and enforcers of the growing need to protect business and consumers from what has become an insidious criminal activity that is damaging our economy, destroying jobs, feeding organized crime gangs and ultimately threatening the safety and security of consumers. This report helps to prove the extent and danger that counterfeiting presents to ordinary people on the street.

In the UK alone, it is has been predicted that online retail sales will reach over £52 billion in 2015 [1]. This is over 15% of all retail sales made in the UK and means that, on average, UK consumers will spend £1,174 online in 2015, making us the most regular Internet shoppers in Europe.

The MarkMonitor research clearly highlights the threat to consumers, by revealing that a quarter of those that bought a product online have since found that they have been deceived into buying cheap, second-rate counterfeit clothing, footwear, electronics and digital content.

The increasing concern is that customs [2], trading standards and police are also finding more and more potentially dangerous fake products, such as food, medicines, electrical household goods and toys.

In addition, institutions such as Europol [3], Interpol [4], UNICRI [5] , UNDOC [6] and the World Customs Organisation have all acknowledged the links between counterfeiting and organised crime and that massive profits from fake products are being channeled into areas such as the trafficking of drugs

Alison Statham, ACG Director of Operations said, “this report backs up what ACG has been saying to government and enforcers for years. The volume of counterfeit goods being sold and distributed in the UK is not only unacceptable it is now threatening consumers on a day-to-day basis. While ACG exists to represent the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrence to counterfeiting, our aim is to help build safer communities, which allow UK businesses to flourish. Government must reassess its strategy to help protect our communities by giving enforcers the necessary drive and resources to tackle what is now a menacing, organised trans-national criminal activity.

13.11.15 - Phil Lewis, ACG Strategy Adviser

On 21st October 2015, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG), which represents companies with over 2,700 international brands, held its Annual Conference at the Radisson Blue Portman Hotel in London.

The Conference, titled “THE GOLDEN THREAD”, was jointly sponsored by MarkMonitor, NetNames, Yellow Brand Protection and Securikett Ulrich & Horn GmbH and focused on building intelligence, evidence‐based policy & a 360° approach to intellectual property enforcement. The conference embraced over 90 attendees, including professional experts, government policymakers, high level enforcers, lawyers, anti-counterfeiting associations and brand protection managers from across the globe.

The event was opened by Chris Oldknow (ACG Council Chair) who highlighted the fact that in a world where technical changes are taking place at breathtaking speed, new channels are being created solely for counterfeit, pirated goods and services.  He focused on intermediaries and explained that most work to restrict the abuse of their infrastructures and prevent counterfeiting and piracy. However, more needs to be done. Chris outlined the latest BASCAP “Intermediaries Report” which centres on raising awareness of intermediary vulnerabilities, reviewing current approaches to address the problem, identifying alternative solutions, assessing whether programmes are working and suggesting best practices and measures for intermediaries, right holders and governments to more effectively address the problem. He concluded by adding that governments can and should play a role in supporting and encouraging voluntary efforts and to step in when there is no progress.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) has become a welcome contributor and supporter of ACG events and meetings, but she was unfortunately unable to attend conference due to the Chinese State visit. However, she provided a video speech HERE in which she confirmed government’s commitment to tackling counterfeiting and piracy. She urged those engaged in IP enforcement work to “publicise your successes and make sure Ministers, law enforcers, businesses, potential fraudsters and rogues are aware of the great work you are doing to protect our brands, copyright and designs”. The Minister specifically cited ‘Operation Jasper’, aimed at reducing the scale of the problem of counterfeit products available on social media. This joint operation between National Market Group partners, including ACG members and public enforcement organisations led to the removal of over 4,300 Facebook listings, numerous raids and a host of ongoing investigations. The Minister closed by reminding attendees to engage in the debate on the digital single market, explaining “it is essential that stakeholders take part in the process, to ensure Europe is a market that fully embraces the digital age”.

The following panel, on Government and Policy, included Ros Lynch, Copyright & IP Enforcement Director at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO); Helge Kleinwege, EU Commission, DG GROW, Intellectual Property and Fight Against Counterfeiting; Benoit Goyens, IPM Project Manager, World Customs Organisation (WCO) and Chris Vansteenkiste, IPR Crime Unit at Europol.

Ros Lynch explained why IP enforcement matters to UK Government and outlined a range of on-going initiatives being carried out by the IPO to strengthen the response to counterfeiting and piracy. These included efforts to remove advertising from illegal sites and work to ensure that search engines do not link to the worst offending sites. Ros added that this work is in line with the Government’s manifesto to encourage ISP’s to block sites which hold “large” amounts of illegal content and that the Minister is also hosting regular roundtable meetings with major search engines, and creative industry bodies to review Copyright Sanctions for online offences.

In closing, Ros explained that the IPO is working on a new 5 year IP enforcement strategy which will include aims to develop more understanding of scope and scale, to meet physical goods and online/digital challenges and to build “fit for purpose” legal frameworks.

Helge Kleinwege outlined the EU Commission’s work plan which includes tactical plans to focus on commercial scale IP infringements, improve prevention, increase cross-border cooperation between Member States and prioritise IP enforcement policy on the basis of objective data. He also announced that the Commission will put out a short consultation on enforcement in November 2015 and stressed that it has committed itself to making legislative proposals in 2016 aimed at modernising enforcement of IP rights, focusing on commercial-scale infringements (the 'follow the money' approach) as well as its cross-border applicability." Other initiatives will include legislative proposals on the EU copyright framework, a comprehensive assessment of the role of online intermediaries and exploring the liability of intermediaries regarding illegal content hosted online.

The WCO and Europol both detailed their working practices, systems and successes over the past few years and encouraged stakeholders to continue to work with them to build up their intelligence and understanding. A key announcement made by Chris Vansteenkiste is that next year Europol will open an IPR Centre to mirror the existing body in the USA.

The second Panel session of the day on “IP Enforcement” included Handley Brustad, IP Lead Officer for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute; Mike Andrews, National E‐Crime Co‐ordination Manager, NTS E‐Crime; Michael Dodge, Deputy Head of Police IP Crime Unit PIPCUErik Barnet, Law Enforcement Attaché to EU Commission; ICE Homeland Security Investigations and US Department of Homeland Security.

Handley Brustard explained how the City of Cardiff Council is dealing with the problem of counterfeiting and piracy and how the current national enforcement infrastructure and laws can work against enforcement efforts. He cited the recent changes to the powers of Inspection in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which stipulates at least 2 days’ notice for inspections and certain exemptions from giving notice which can be open to legal interpretation

Mike Andrews outlined the work of the NTS e-crime team explaining the background, a specific operation, how notice and take down is being used and future opportunities. Between 2010 and 2014 there was a 400% increase in consumer complaints and during 2013/14 over 5,000 consumer complaints were recorded in relation to social media relating to counterfeit and unsafe products illicit tobacco and alcohol and misleading advertising. Mike referred to the success of Operation Jasper, the joint operation between National Market Group partners and explained that meetings have now taken place with a major social media company to introduce a process for notice and takedown. He confirmed that in April 2015, an initial trial was agreed which, if successful, could be rolled out to involve more companies.

Michael Dodge detailed the ongoing work of the PIPCU and how it is further developing its role. He stressed that it is vital that PIPCU and industry work together to exchange experiences and information. Operation Jasper has been a great example of how this can work on the ground and added that without such partnership working, PIPCU will be unable to carry out its work in an active and efficient manner and so meet everyone’s’ expectations. He called on attendees to build closer and more regular engagement with PIPCU and to work in concrete partnership.

Erik Barnett brought attention to the growing threat of dangerous counterfeits and explained how the National IPR Coordination Centre in the US is responding to the problem. Every year more than 11 million maritime containers arrive at U.S. seaports and at land borders, another 10 million arrive by truck and 3 million by rail. In addition, air travel brings an additional quarter billion more cargo, postal, and express consignment packages. In terms of online sales, the Centre has introduced operation “In Our Sights” which aims to take down sales sites and leave striking messages that it has been seized by US Immigration and Customs enforcement. This successful work has now been extended into a transatlantic coordination project.

Panel three focused on the use of a 360° approach to brand protection and was covered by prestigious advocates and users, MarkMonitor, NetNames, Securikett Ulrich & Horn GmbH, and Yellow Brand Protection.

MarkMonitor focused on brand protection in an “omni-channel” world where the customer brand experience is expected to be authentic across all online and off line channels and where those who proliferate counterfeits, will do so using any channel that allows them to go undetected. It was explained that social media now contributes to the majority of new content, and remains a path for brand abuse by counterfeiters who see it as a haven. The speed and spread of offers is outstanding. In addition, content and images are not easily identifiable and can disappear quickly. Therefore, Brand owners cannot track where offers have been placed or might spring up. Moreover, social media is also a free speech medium for people to exchange information which allows people to make disparaging remarks about products and companies. Trying to fight this can be dangerous as brands can often be seen as picking on the “little person. MarkMonitor provided many helpful tips on how to overcome these issues, including how to create a strategy and policy for social media that would allow companies to build partnerships, monitor what is happening and proactively register their brands on new sites.

NetNames outlined the new ACG “Online Brand Protection Guide” and “How to protect your brand against fake web-shops and mobile apps”. The guide has been developed in collaboration with MarkMonitor, Yellow Brand Protection, OpSec and watchdog and sets out how to assess issues impacting brands online, strategies and processes for the detection and removal of counterfeits and other infringements on online marketplaces, social media, mobile apps, fake websites and web-shop.  The Guide also covers domain name infringements and the use of best practices. In protecting brands against fake web-shops and mobile apps NetNames set out a 3‐step process for optimizing a web presence and efficiently detecting and removing fake web-shops and mobile apps. This included how to optimise domain name registrations, the way to ensure an efficient method of detecting the most important fake web-shops and mobile apps, creating established processes and relationships for fast effective takedowns and finally measuring the success of programmes.

Securikett Ulrich & Horn GmbH highlighted the difficulties that consumers and platforms often have in distinguishing real products and fakes. To combat the problem, they outlined the potential and use of 4 pillars of identification and authentication to support fast and unambiguous recognition. These included, unique item codes (bar codes etc.), “un-clonable” tamper evidence (used in packaging), overt security elements and covert security elements. Securikett Ulrich & Horn GmbH explained that what might be easy for the end user, such as the use of smartphone technology to check bar codes etc., also needs to be professional and future proof for brand owners. They also provided case examples to show how various business sectors are now protecting their products including, the automotive industry, pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical devices and spirits.

Yellow Brand Protection set out the main challenges in fighting counterfeiting online. Finding online offers that deliberately set out to deceive consumers can be very difficult. Often counterfeiters will use advertising that omits brand names or even place offers with large online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon and Makepolo, a global Chinese platform that has over 60 million products and 5 million searches from buyers every day. The result is that approximately 31% of UK consumers, who have bought counterfeits, actually believed they were buying genuine products at the time. Yellow offered 5 top tips for managing online marketplaces and a success story to show how these tips can work.

In conclusion, ACG launched three videos to explain the mains strands of its aims and work in representing the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK. The videos cover ACG’s strategies to help steer more effective evidenced based policy and its plans to strengthen and empower more successful multi-agency partnerships through intelligence coordination and greater collaboration.

The videos can be found on the newly created ACG You Tube Channel here and as new videos are created we will be able to upload them and will advise you accordingly. 

16.09.15 - Phil Lewis, ACG Strategy Adviser

Over the past year the European Observatory on infringements of Intellectual Property Rights link to website (the Observatory) has published a series of reports here aimed at improving the understanding of the importance of Intellectual Property (IP) in society today and the consequences of IP infringements (counterfeiting and piracy). 

The reports cover a range of areas and issues, from a first “Situation Report on Counterfeiting in the European Union”, to a number of economic cost studies about IP infringements in vulnerable sectors. These have so far covered the clothing, footwear and accessories sector, the cosmetics and personal care sector and most recently the sporting goods sector. More are to come.

Why is the Observatory doing this? Aren’t there enough reports evidencing the problem?

Well let’s consider this...

As far back as 2009, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported here that the global trade in fake goods was as high as $250 billion. This enormous amount was described as being larger than the national GDP’s of about 150 economies. 

As part of its study the OECD also highlighted that the situation was likely to worsen, as counterfeiters increase the use of the Internet to peddle their fakes. This prediction has undoubtedly been correct and European Commission statistics back it up. The Commission’s latest Customs report, produced in 2014 here, highlights the fact that over 35m fakes were detained at EU borders, many of which were small parcels being delivered through express and postal traffic, as a result of Internet orders. Moreover, over 83% of all counterfeits seized by customs authorities actually originated in China and Hong Kong.  So the OECD’s original assessment on the global extent of counterfeiting can hardly be denied.

But perhaps the most worrying fact, presented by the Commission, was that over 25% of all counterfeits detained at the borders were potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers.

What’s more is that, institutions such as Europol link to website, Interpol link to website, UNICRI link to website, UNDOC link to website and the World Customs Organisation link to website have all acknowledged the links between counterfeiting and organised crime and that massive profits from fake products are being channelled into areas such as the trafficking of drugs and human beings and related financial crimes such as, money laundering and corruption.

Despite all these facts and information there are still those who disbelieve or deny the extent of counterfeiting and the damage it does.

There appear to be many reasons for this, some are purely political but others have some credibility. For example, it’s been claimed that previous studies by business and industry groups have simply been self serving, in attempt to get public authorities to protect private business rights. There is no evidence of this but the notion exists.

More correctly though, over the years, it is often maintained that there has been no agreed methodology for collecting and analysing data and therefore, no aggregated figures can be put together to show the true scope and scale of the issue. Other criticisms focus on the fact that past studies have simply been 'snapshots' in time, which have been commissioned by different industries for different reasons. For example, to highlight losses to business, tax, jobs etc. and therefore, they have employed different approaches.

Added to this, there is the secretive nature of crime and the claim that figures are inaccurate because some sectors of industry have been hesitant to disclose information on the the true scope of the problem, as they fear damaging both consumer confidence and the reputation of their brands. Consequently, the argument is that extrapolations have been used that are either unclear or simply wide of the mark.

All of these arguments add up and as result, it has often been difficult to influence and gain the support of politicians, policymakers and decision takers, particularly in countries with weak enforcement regimes.

So how can the Observatory’s work help?  Well we’ve clearly needed an independent view, if only to counter the argument that reports are being written by those who would most benefit. In addition, as these new reports are produced by a public body they definitely have more credence and influence with government and enforcement.  Furthermore, the methodology being used by the Observatory and its partners is consistent, which means that we will be able to aggregate statistics and provide more reliable overall forecasts. Moreover, the resources the Observatory has at its disposal means that figures can be continually revisited and updated and, as a result we are in a better position to attract and focus our enforcement resources more effectively.

What should we do? Filling the gap on evidence and intelligence sharing between business, government and enforcement is vital in helping to facilitate more effective cooperation and action.  The Anti Counterfeiting Group (ACG) is already fostering its relationship with the Observatory to ensure we provide the right contacts and get the right information to the team to help their work.

For example, ACG’s intelligence coordinator (IC) already provides a key link between our members and local and national enforcement authorities. By collating, analysing and developing tactical information and producing specific intelligence packs, our IC helps to drive more focused individual and joint operations throughout the United Kingdom. Our intention now is to use this information to build more strategic pictures and to feed the Observatory at every opportunity.

The Observatory reports are gaining more and more international attention as the combination of data and strategic intelligence has become vital fuel for “stretched” enforcement agencies. As a result, they should be in a better position to target specific aspects of production, distribution and selling of fakes which cause most harm.  ACG aims to be at the centre of this work.

To sum up, ACG exists to represent the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting. Through our continued participation and collaborations, we are placing even more emphasis on helping to empower multi-agency partnerships. Providing more information and reliable statistics to the Observatory is crucial in this, not only in arming policymakers and enforcers but in persuading the general public and dissenters that counterfeiting is undermining our whole social and economic fabric by depriving our creators, inventors, artists and designers of their just rewards, destroying jobs, denying much needed tax revenue to fund essential public services, such as health and education and threatening the health and safety of consumers.

21.08.15 - Phil Lewis, ACG Strategy Adviser

Dear Members

As we all know, current economic measures, which have been put in place across most of Europe, are having a devastating impact on the work of trading standards and market surveillance authorities.... Read more in the ACG Members Area here