[author: Marcus Riby-Smith]
On 13 September the City of London Police launched a unit dedicated to the fight against intellectual property crime – the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU). The unit, initially funded by a two year, £2.56 million grant from the Intellectual Property Office, will employ a 19-strong team based at the City of London Police Economic Crime Directorate (ECD). It will be headed by Detective Superintendent Robert Wishart, previous head of operations at the ECD.
According to the City of London Police’s website, the new unit will work with various national and international partners, including private industry and public authorities, to “build a comprehensive UK policing response to the threat of online intellectual property crime.” The team’s focus will be on “influencing online behaviour” through “education, prevention and enforcement activity”. The unit will also investigate the sale and production of counterfeit goods, having the power to seize assets and compel internet service providers to take down websites selling fake merchandise. In this vein, talks are said to be on-going with large UK advertising companies to enable them to avoid marketing on illegal sites – thereby depriving these sites of revenue.
PIPCU has already undertaken its first task, arresting two men in Birmingham suspected of importing counterfeit DVD boxsets valued at an estimated £40,000. Titles included The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones and CSI.