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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
National crackdown on fake goods
A real Louis Vuitton bag (left) with a fake (right)
Fake goods cost the UK economy billions of pounds yearly
A crackdown on counterfeiting and piracy is planned under government moves to protect intellectual property.

Fake goods, such as DVDs and clothing, cost the UK economy billions of pounds, industry estimates suggest.

The Patent Office, brand owners, customs, police and trading standards will work together under a national strategy to be unveiled on Tuesday.

Industry minister Jacqui Smith said crime gangs were often involved in trading fake goods.

She said about 25% of counterfeiters were also involved in serious crimes, such as drug dealing and money laundering.

Can you spot the fakes from the real goods?

"Pirates and bootleggers cheat consumers and steal jobs," she said, when publishing the first intellectual property (IP) crime strategy on Tuesday.

"Their dodgy goods are poor quality but can also be harmful to the consumer - fake perfumes that burn the skin, spirits that are unsafe.

"IP crime is not victimless."

The national strategy is intended to better co-ordinate the agencies involved in intellectual property crime and improve training for those working at the front-line.

'Common purpose'

You put your question to Trading Standards Officer Bryan Lewin in an interactive forum

An annual report on national enforcement will be published to monitor its progress.

The minister for science and innovation, Lord Sainsbury, welcomed the strategy, saying it had been developed quickly.

"Clearly a common purpose is shared by the police, customs, trading standards and many brand owners to co-ordinate their efforts to best effect.

"This bodes well for our fight against IP crime."

It was also welcomed by the music industries' representative on the government's recently established creative industries intellectual forum.

Global business

EMI Group chairman Eric Nicoli said: "We are very encouraged that the government is taking steps to help Britain's creative industries tackle the theft of intellectually property and we welcome this latest enforcement initiative from the Patent Office."

Fake Von Dutch clothing
An annual report will monitor the strategy's progress

Trading Standards Institute's Bryan Lewin described counterfeiting as "a global business run by highly-organised serious criminals using it as a low-risk way of laundering money and raising funds for other criminal activities".

"To tackle crime at this level, Trading Standards, the industry and other enforcement agencies must adopt an equally organised and co-ordinated approach.

"The National IP Crime Strategy will help to achieve this objective."

The Anti-counterfeiting Group, while will work with the Patent Office, estimated that counterfeiting and piracy cost the economy 10bn and 4,000 jobs a year.

ACG director General Ruth Orchard said; "With this strategy in place, and the goodwill fostered by all the partners, we have a real chance to take the fight back to the criminal gangs who are defrauding consumers and rights owners."

The BBC's Louisa Baldini
"It cost 10bn and four thousand jobs last year alone"

Fake goods tempting young adults
09 Aug 04  |  Technology
Software piracy continues to grow
07 Jul 04  |  Technology
Crackdown nets 3m in fake goods
25 Jun 04  |  Scotland

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