Information sharing with new IP crime police unit can help rights holders obtain redress for infringements, says expert

Out-Law News | 02 Aug 2013 | 12:50 pm | 1 min. read

The establishment of a dedicated police unit for investigating and prosecuting against individuals involved in intellectual property (IP) crime can help rights holders obtain redress for the infringement of their rights, an expert has said.

The online IP crime unit within the City of London Police, which is to receive £2.5m of funding from the Government's department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) over the next two years, is set to become operational a month today on 2 September.

Announcing the new unit earlier this summer the Commissioner of the City of London Police, Adrian Leppard, said that the new unit will "co-ordinate the national and international response from law enforcement and public and private sector partners so we can effectively target those who continue to illegally profiteer on the back of others endeavours".

The unit will be able to engage in cross-border enforcement activity against online copyright infringers and counterfeiters. It is to liaise closely with other law enforcement agencies such as Europol and Interpol, but intellectual property law litigator Iain Connor said that the new unit could be utilised by rights holders too.

"The introduction of a specialist team in the City of London police to deal with online IP crime provides the focus to deliver the information sharing first envisaged in the Enterprise Act 2002," Connor said. "Until that point, the ability of the criminal law enforcement agencies to share evidence with lawyers to bring civil cases to recover damages was very limited."

"Since that time, competing priorities have meant that IP crime has not been the focus for the police – for example, the successful prosecution of Anton Vickerman, the man behind the pirate film website, surfthechannel.com, was as a result of a private prosecution not one brought by the police," he added.

"The new IP crime unit provides rights holders with the opportunity to refer intelligence on criminal activity to the authorities safe in the knowledge that action will be taken and that when a prosecution is secured, that prosecution can be used to obtain financial recovery through the civil courts," Connor said.