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Football fakes
Football Against Fakes

Law enforcement and Premier League clubs unite for Football Against Fakes

Enforcement officials and Premier League clubs have come together to highlight the issue of counterfeiting within the football industry, at the 'Football Against Fakes' conference on Thursday 23 September at Emirates Stadium.    

Officers from the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) attended the event which provides clubs and their partners with the opportunity to develop key working relationships and knowledge sharing to help protect their brands.
Over the course of the 2015/16 season, the Premier League alone seized almost 100,000 counterfeit items worth more than £1 million, taking the total value of items recovered past the £10 million mark since the scheme began in 2007. This figure does not consider clubs' own seizures and those of kit manufacturers.
Representatives from Leicester City and The FA joined other industry experts in speaking about the Premier League's anti-counterfeiting programme, as well as a discussions on digital investigations.

Throughout the day Premier League clubs also exhibited their official merchandise to demonstrate the difference with fake goods and enable them to develop key working relationships with the authorities who help protect their brands.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliff, Head of the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, said: "Our analysis shows that sportswear products and accessories remain the most counterfeited products sold online. This demonstrates not only the huge consumer appetite for sportswear but also the importance of our solid partnership with the football industry in identifying and disrupting fake websites.

"So far we have overseen more than 13,500 takedowns of counterfeit websites and prevented thousands of consumers from becoming victims duped into handing over their personal and payment details to criminals who often commit further crime through identity theft.

"No supporter should feel the disappointment of purchasing a product with their hard-earned cash only to discover that it's not genuine, and together with our partners we will continue to tackle the issue head on by maximising intelligence sharing and working partnerships at every opportunity."

Ros Lynch, Copyright and IP Enforcement Director at the UK Intellectual Property Office, said: "Opportunistic counterfeiters have benefited from the increasingly distinct and unique design of Premier League football shirts.

"The UK Government and its partners in law enforcement are working hard to bring an end to this practice. Cross-border collaboration is vital as the global popularity of Premier League clubs make them a target for IP thieves across the world. To face this challenge and protect IP rights we need to be as one in our efforts."

Richard Masters, the Premier League Managing Director said: "As interest in the competitive and compelling football put on by Premier League clubs increases so too do the challenges surrounding the production and sale of counterfeit goods.

"Every season we are made aware of fans who have purchased what they believe to be legitimate kits tickets, and club souvenirs, often for prices close to or at the same level as genuine products, only to find out they have bought poor quality fakes.

"Today's event allows the Premier League and our clubs, many of which are already doing excellent work in this space, to come together with kit manufacturers, law enforcement agencies and other public bodies to share best practice and reaffirm our commitment to reducing the trade in counterfeit merchandise."

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (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 Intellectual Property Office (IPO). It was announced in October 2014 that PIPCU will receive a further £3 million from the IPO to fund the unit up to 2017.
The unit comprises of a team of 19 police officers and staff, consisting of detectives, analysts and researchers. It is based within the Economic Crime Directorate of the City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud.

In April 2014 PIPCU launched Operation Creative, a ground breaking initiative designed to disrupt and prevent websites from providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content. To date PIPCU’s unique partnership with the UK advertising industry has led to the identification of 1,150 websites providing illegal access to films, music, TV, books, games and film. These recognised sites are also subject of the only police driven Infringing Website List (IWL) which is understood to be first of its kind in the world.

PIPCU is headed by DCI Peter Ratcliffe, who took on the role in June 2015 and has over 24 years’ experience as a police officer. DCI Ratcliffe has worked in a variety of specialist detective posts managing investigations into asset recovery and money laundering. Along with PIPCU he also manages the national Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit.
Since the launch of PIPCU in 2013, the unit has:

  • Investigated property crime worth £33.8 million
  • Conducted 81 investigations
  • Arrested 66 people for fraud, copyright, counterfeiting and cyber enabled offences Protected consumers from being ripped off online by suspending over 13,654 websites selling fake branded goods
  • Achieved a 73% reduction in top UK advertisers placing paid for adverts on illegal copyright infringing websites
  • Diverted thousands of consumers away from counterfeit websites containing malicious malware and viruses
  • Identified and offered advice over 600 identity theft victims who have had their personal details used by criminals to set up counterfeit websites
  • Established new working relationships with a range of industries to tackle a wide remit of potentially dangerous counterfeit goods such as vehicle car parts, children’s toys, clothing and cosmetics  

Find out more about PIPCU here: