How the counterfeit goods market costs the UK, and how we are working to deter the trade in fake goods.
For some people, buying a counterfeit Rolex watch or Gucci handbag over the internet is just a cheap way to maintain a designer lifestyle. But beneath the labels, the rip-offs are often linked to world-wide criminal organisations.
The market for counterfeit goods
The UK is a profitable market place for criminals to trade in counterfeit goods.
A large consumer market, coupled with the economic down-turn and online access encourage those involved in the manufacture and supply of counterfeit goods to target the UK.
The reason for such high levels of counterfeiting is the supply and demand for brand name products at knock-down prices. For example, fake UGG boots have been known to sell for £30 to £80 on the internet. Genuine UGG products can only be purchased through authorised retailers and sell for around £160.
The cost of counterfeit goods on trademark owners, consumers and the UK economy is huge and the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property estimated that the criminal gain from counterfeiting in the UK is worth £1.3 billion annually.
Fake packaging and labelling
Increasingly, counterfeiters are becoming experts in copying packaging and labelling, making it difficult for enforcement agencies and unsuspecting consumers to recognise the genuine from the fake.
Counterfeiting on this scale requires serious organisation, established distribution channels and, of course, money. It's a global business run by highly-organised serious criminals using what is seen as a low-risk way of making money and raising funds for other criminal activities, such as people smuggling and money laundering.
Deterring the counterfeiting trade
We are working with registered trademark owners ad with HM Revenue & Customs, Trading Standards, the commercial industry and other enforcement agencies to disrupt the organised crime groups involved.
The Intellectual Property Office's National IP Crime Strategy will help to achieve this objective. The aim is to work as effectively as possible, to ease entry for legitimate goods and stop and deter smugglers and fraudsters.
Border Force advances in new screening technology and intelligence can lead not only to the goods being taken off the streets but also wider police investigation and ultimately prosecution.
By educating consumers, working with partners and enforcing where appropriate, we can change consumer perceptions and effectively deter the counterfeiting trade.