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SPRING 2022 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Its in everyones interest to defeat counterfeit goods, which create unfair competition, deny the UK revenue, and could be dangerous On your Sports enthusiasts will turn their attention to Birmingham from 28 July to 8 August, when the 22nd Commonwealth Games take place across the city. Such activity adversely affects traders who comply with the law, because they are not able to compete on a fair, level playing field Elite athletes from all over the world will compete in a range of sports, hoping to win a medal and inspire a new generation to get active. One thing all the competitors have in common is the need for good kit and equipment, and sporting brands spend huge sums of money to research, design and develop their products. So, it is only right that they can protect their intellectual property rights against traders who seek to manufacture, import or sell counterfeit products. We often hear that the manufacture and sale of counterfeit items is a victimless crime, or that the brands can afford it but this ignores the fact that such activity adversely affects traders who comply with the law, because they are not able to compete on a fair, level playing field. Counterfeiters also often target safety-sensitive products, such as electrical items and cosmetics, and generally do not declare their income or pay taxes, because cash is king in their business. As a result, the UK as a whole loses out. Individuals and businesses that infringe the law may commit offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 or the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988. Offences under s92 of the Trade Marks Act include: n Applying trademarks to goods, labelling, packaging, and so on n Selling etc goods that have such a mark n Having possession of such goods with a view to selling, and so on. The penalties for those found guilty of an offence can be severe, with a potential unlimited fine and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years. Enforcement of the legislation is typically carried out by Trading Standards, which has wide-ranging powers, including entry into premises and seizure of infringing products and other evidence. In a recent case in the Midlands, a manufacturer of counterfeit clothing was sentenced to four years imprisonment and now faces a proceeds of crime case, when the court will determine how much money from his unlawful activity he must pay back. Credit: Phil Page, Trading Standards officer, Image: iStock / tomazl / m-imagephotography For advice and information about keeping your business on the right side of the law, contact the Intellectual Property Office. To anonymously report a non-complying business call 0300 303 2636. For further information, please contact your local Trading Standards Service