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Anti-counterfeit team set to tackle replica goods in UK

Tom Shearsmith
07 August 2020

A specialist anti-counterfeiting team has been created by IP firm Marks & Clerk in response to the growing counterfeit goods trade, which is costing the UK billions.

Their focus will span customs and law enforcement, and online counterfeiting across fashion, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, media and entertainment, and toys.

Partner John Ferdinand, who heads the team, says the move is "in response to the increasing scope, magnitude and sophistication of the counterfeit goods trade".

The market in the UK accounted for £13.6 billion in 2016, with ICT products alone accounting for £2.5billion according to the latest ‘Trade in Counterfeit Products and UK Economy’ report released by the OECD and IPO.

John Ferdinand said: “Trade in counterfeit goods is one of the most rapidly expanding economic crimes around the world and is having a devastating economic effect with an estimated 27 million articles seized in the EU in 2018. 

It is costing as many as 60,000 jobs a year in the UK, and research shows more than half of the goods sold were bought by people who knew they were fakes.

“Predictably clothing, footwear, toys and games, and leather goods like handbags are amongst the most targeted but this murky trade spans a vast and diverse range of industries which means this is a challenge faced by a wide range of UK businesses.

“Across our network we have IP specialists with specific expertise in this area. Bringing them together to form a dedicated anti counterfeit team will mean our clients have access to some of the best specialists in the UK to advise not only on preventative measures, but also ways to enforce the law in conjunction with law enforcement agencies when intellectual property rights have been breached.”

Sectors where the UK intellectual property rights are particularly targeted, in terms of absolute value of trade, include electronic, electrical equipment and optical products, machinery and domestic appliances, and motor vehicles and motorcycles. 

The economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in view of the shift to online retail, present a clear opportunity for counterfeiters to take advantage. Protecting brands and products from this activity will be of increasing importance for businesses.

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