Guide

Intellectual property crime and your business

Intellectual property infringement - reporting intellectual property crime

If you find a case of infringement of your intellectual property (IP), you need to think carefully about what action you might take. If it is a civil law matter, you might consider consulting a legal adviser who specialises in this area of law. Depending on the circumstances, you might consider a range of options which could include coming to an arrangement with the other party to license the product, mediation or litigation. Alternatively it may, depending on the circumstances, be an issue that should be reported to trading standards or the police for potential investigation under criminal law.

Investigation of IP crime in the UK is the responsibility of several enforcement agencies including trading standards departments, police departments, HMRC and sector specific agencies such as the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and Food Standards Agency. Trading standards have wide-ranging powers to investigate allegations of IP crime and often work in partnership with the police, other enforcement agencies and industry investigators.

If you are offered suspect goods, or if you believe that your own goods are being copied or counterfeited illegally, you should first report the matter to your local trading standards department.

The UK imports many legitimate products from outside the European Union (EU), but it is also the case that many - though not all - fraudulent, pirated or counterfeit goods come into the UK from outside the EU. If you import products, especially for resale, you have a responsibility to ensure that the goods you buy are legal in every way.

If you are offered or have bought products that you suspect are pirated or counterfeit, you should contact trading standards or the police in the first instance. If the goods originated from non-EU suppliers, you should also inform the UK Border Agency and HM Revenue & Customs. See our guide on how to help HMRC stop illegal trading and fraud.