The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has ensured that £719 million of IP crime has been disrupted since its inception in 2013.

The news comes after the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) recently announced that it would continue to fund PIPCU beyond June 2019. PIPCU is a specialist national police unit dedicated to protecting the legitimate UK industries that produce hard goods and digital content from intellectual property crime.

In 2018 PIPCU tackled counterfeit airbags, joined forces with the IPO to stop the sale of counterfeit poppy merchandise and urged shoppers to avoid counterfeit electricals.

The unit’s Operation Ashiko has also been at the forefront of taking down 66,558 websites since 2013 which were believed to be selling counterfeit products. Of these sites taken down, 33,625 were believed to be selling counterfeit clothing.

In addition to the Unit’s work to clampdown on counterfeit hard goods, PIPCU is also combatting digital piracy with its Operation Creative. Operation Creative is a ground-breaking initiative designed to disrupt and prevent websites from providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content, led by PIPCU in partnership with the creative and advertising industries.

The operation has added 1,646 websites to its Infringing Website List (IWL) and has suspended 1,861. The IWL, the first of its kind to be developed, is an online portal containing an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, identified and evidenced by the creative industries and verified by PIPCU. The aim of the IWL is that advertisers, agencies and other intermediaries can voluntarily decide to cease advert placement on these illegal websites which in turn disrupts the sites’ advertising revenue.

Disrupting advertising is a vital part of Operation Creative. Advertising is a key generator of criminal profits for websites providing access to infringing content. A study carried out by Ernst and Young in 2017 revealed that the top 672 piracy sites generated $111 million per year.

PIPCU’s success has led to a number of international police forces working with the Unit to implement similar departments themselves.

Detective Chief Inspector Teresa Russell of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) said: “Since its inception in 2013, PIPCU has become a leader in IP enforcement. It has combatted counterfeit hard goods and digital piracy to such a high level that it is now being held as an example to other forces internationally.

“To have disrupted £719 million worth of IP crime over the past five years is a remarkable achievement and something that we will continue to build upon in the coming year.”

Dr Ros Lynch, Director of Copyright and Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, said: 
“Partnership working is vital in the fight against intellectual property crime. We are delighted that our collaboration with PIPCU has led to demonstrable success in disrupting this type of criminal activity.”