13 March 2020TrademarksEdward Pearcey

Manchester police seize counterfeit goods worth £7.5 million in raids

Several UK law enforcement bodies working in collaboration have seized counterfeit goods worth over £7.5 million during a huge operation in Manchester, northern England, leading to the arrest of 15 people.

According to a statement from Greater Manchester Police, more than 100 police officers and staff searched three premises in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, on Wednesday, March 11, “in a large scale operation aimed at cracking down on the sale of counterfeit goods”.

The raids, led by the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit ( PIPCU) and Greater Manchester Police, in collaboration with the UK’s Immigration Services, uncovered branded clothing, shoes and perfume suspected to be counterfeit.

“The counterfeit goods business regularly helps to fund other types of serious organised crime,” said PIPCU’s Charlotte Beattie, who is leading the investigation. “An individual may think that when buying counterfeit goods they are only affecting a multi-million pound brand, but in reality they are helping to fund organised criminal activity.”

“These fake items can pose a health risk to individuals as they usually are not fit for purpose or have not gone through the legal health and safety checks. For example, counterfeit makeup and perfume can contain harmful chemicals that can damage the skin,” she added.

Phil Lewis, director general of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group ( ACG), said: “These Manchester traders selling counterfeit goods are blatantly defrauding consumers. They’re harming legitimate businesses, making absolutely no contribution toward public services or the UK economy, and the vast profits made by selling these fake goods are increasingly funding organised crime.”

The ACG is a trade group that provides assistance and intelligence to governments and agencies and works to change public perception about counterfeiting.

An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD) counterfeiting report published late last year found most counterfeit products sold in the UK are purchased by consumers who are intentionally buying fake goods.

The report, based on data from 2016, estimates that goods such as clothing, footwear, leather goods, handbags, toys, and games are the most counterfeited products in the UK.

Fake information and communication technology (ICT) products with a total value of £2.5 billion ($3.2 billion) were imported into the UK that year.

According to the report, a majority of counterfeit goods sold in 2016 were purchased by consumers who were knowingly buying fake goods, although this figure varied significantly by type of product.

Nearly two-thirds (59%) of counterfeit clothes, footwear, and leather products were purchased knowingly, the report claimed, while the figure was just 33% for foodstuffs.

PIPCU is a specialist national police unit dedicated to protecting the UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content from intellectual property crime.

The operationally independent unit was launched in September 2013 with funding from the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

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29 November 2019   Most counterfeit products sold in the UK are purchased by consumers who are intentionally buying fake goods, a new report has claimed.
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