Operation MONTY keeps shoppers and businesses safe from counterfeit goods in the run up to the festive season

Social media: Operation MONTY keeps shoppers and businesses safe from counterfeit goods in the run up to the festive season!

The National Markets Group for IP Protection (NMG), a multi-agency focus group aimed at reducing the availability of counterfeit goods at physical markets and online, is warning consumers to watch out for fake, and potentially dangerous goods, that may appear on social media in the run up to the festive shopping season.

With Black Friday fast approaching and consumers vying for bargains, traders in counterfeit goods are looking to exploit the retail shift to on-line buying by attempting to offer often dangerous, counterfeit goods on social media platforms.

“Counterfeiters operating on social media draw in unsuspecting consumers, using well-known brand names, to sell their illicit goods” said Graham Mogg, Intelligence Co-Ordinator at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) and Chair of the NMG.

“This criminal activity undermines the fabric of society, robbing legitimate business of their income, placing consumers at risk and funds serious and organised crime. A whole range of counterfeit products including clothing, footwear, accessories, watches and even potentially dangerous goods such as toys, cosmetics, perfumes and electrical goods are being offered on these platforms.”

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Stevenage Indoor Market is the Real Deal!

Traders from Stevenage Indoor Market, in partnership with Stevenage Borough Council, recently signed up to the national ‘Real Deal’ campaign – demonstrating a joint commitment to ensuring safe, fair and legal sales at Stevenage Indoor Market.

In signing up to the Real Deal Markets Charter, it means traders at Stevenage Indoor Market have pledged to continue working with Stevenage Borough Council to stop rogue traders from selling counterfeit and illegal items.

The Real Deal campaign is a cross-sector, partnership initiative, bringing together local authority trading standards services, market operators and traders, industry groups, and copyright and trademark owners, all of whom are united with a common commitment to tackling this problem.

Councillor Joan Lloyd, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Resources at Stevenage Borough Council said: “It is important to us that customers know they can shop at the Indoor Market with confidence. Fake products are untested and potentially unsafe. The sale of fake goods also means our local businesses lose sales and revenue is lost from our economy.”

She continued: “This is a fantastic initiative and confirms our joint commitment to ensuring consumers and local businesses are protected from the harm caused by counterfeit and illicit goods.”

Councillor Morris Bright MBE, Executive Member for Community Safety at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “The Real Deal initiative is a fantastic way to protect Hertfordshire consumers as they shop at the Stevenage Indoor Market. Our Trading Standards officers have inspected the market and its traders, so that our residents can have confidence that they won’t be purchasing counterfeit, unsafe, or non-compliant goods.”

If you have any concerns about items sold at Stevenage Indoor Market or town centre please contact Trading Standards by calling 01707 292429.

It’s the Real Deal – Cirencester Market and Gloucestershire Trading Standards are working together to protect consumers and legitimate businesses

Left to right: Jason Poole, manager of Gloucestershire Trading Standards, Dave Joynes, managing director of Cotswold Markets, Becky Coles, Community Services Manager, Claire Bloomer, Mayor of Cirencester, and Cllr Gary Selwyn, lead member for community services, at the signing of the charter

Cirencester Market, which is jointly run by Cirencester Town Council and Cotswold Markets, is the latest to join the Real Deal programme to stop shoppers being duped into buying rip-off fakes of designer goods and other illicit items. On Friday 9 July, the market operators confirmed this commitment by signing the Real Deal Charter with Gloucestershire County Council’s trading standards department. 

Cllr Dave Norman, cabinet member responsible for trading standards at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “It is important to ensure legitimate traders are protected and those who feel they can make easy money are deterred at the earliest stage.

“This is a great initiative that will see us working together to protect consumers and local businesses from the harm caused by the trade in counterfeit goods.”

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Let’s Talk Real Deal

In these two short videos, experts representing different stakeholder groups explain the benefits that the Real Deal Charter brings to shoppers, legitimate traders and the wider community.



At the signing of the Real Deal Charter in Newcastle-under-Lyme Market in June 2021, Graham Mogg, Chair of the National Markets Group for IP Protection and ACG Intelligence Co-ordinator explains that Real Deal markets benefit shoppers, legitimate traders and the wider economy: “The money goes into the traders’ pockets and the government purse and is not funding criminality, which is what happens with counterfeit goods.”

Commenting on the impact of the Covid pandemic restrictions on retail trade, Cllr. Stephen Sweeney, Newcastle-under-Lyme Cabinet member for finance, town centres and growth, explains that the council is putting a great deal of emphasis on the town centre: “If we can say to customers that the goods we sell on the market are what they say they are, no frauds, no fakes, it will encourage people to come.”

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader, Cllr Victoria Wilson, comments that the Real Deal in Staffordshire has been “fantastic”, adding, “It’s great for local businesses who can sell their goods to consumers who know they are buying genuine articles and won’t be contributing to the black market.”

Watch the video herehttps://youtu.be/6olPzZ9xLZA



Mike Walsh, Manager of Newton Abbot Market explains why he “jumped at the chance” to sign the Real Deal Charter in 2019, saying, “it brings the opportunity for customers to come into the market and shop with the confidence that they’re buying genuine goods, good quality at a good price.” Trader Diane Smith of Newton Phone Cases and Repairs agrees: “Customers are reassured and are happy and then you build up a customer base . . . through the years.”

Watch the video here – https://youtu.be/Fdqst1b0KW8




Newcastle-under-Lyme Market is the Real Deal

On 1 June, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council became the first to gain Real Deal national accreditation since the pandemic began.

It has voluntarily signed up to the Real Deal charter, working with Staffordshire County Council, as part of ongoing work to protect local shoppers and genuine traders and enhance the growing Newcastle-under-Lyme Market.

Adopting the charter – run by the National Markets Group for IP Protection (NMG) – is a preventative measure to stop rogue traders from selling counterfeit and illegal items on The Stones meaning that visitors can shop, and stallholders trade, in safety and confidence.

The Council is committing to working very closely with the county council’s trading standards team, being aware of who is trading on the market at all times and showing a commitment to fair trading. As well as having access to guidance, information and promotional support, market regulations have been updated to state that suspected counterfeit items may be seized and formal action may follow.

There are further principles for trading standards and industry/trademark representatives.

Officials from the Real Deal initiative travelled from South Wales and the north of England for the signing event. Patricia Lennon, Real Deal National Campaign Manager, praised the market’s commitment, saying: “The management team at Newcastle-under-Lyme Market commenced the process of joining the Real Deal before the start of the Covid pandemic and their support for it has never wavered despite the difficult trading conditions of the past 12 months. I am so pleased that we have been able to come together today to witness this Real Deal Charter signing, confirming Newcastle-under-Lyme Market as a fake-free zone at the heart of the local community.”

Cllr. Stephen Sweeney, Cabinet member for finance, town centres and growth, said: “Markets are a valuable part of our local communities and make a vital contribution to the consumer experience. We’re putting a great deal of time and effort into making our historic market more vibrant and attractive. This is paying off in dividends with greater choice at our general, farmers’ and antique/collectibles markets which run alongside our popular themed events – such as Castle Artisan Market and the Record Fair – as well as visiting markets.

“As we welcome more and more traders to Newcastle town centre, and with restrictions easing, signing up to this national charter feels like a natural progression. We’re really proud of our market’s reputation and want to reassure residents, visitors and businesses that we’re committed to maintaining a safe and fair environment in which to shop and trade.

“Seeing the Real Deal logo is a visible reminder that shoppers can expect to buy only genuine and quality goods from our hardworking traders – not fakes, pirated or potentially unsafe items. We want them to enjoy their purchases and protect traders from losing sales.”

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader, Cllr Victoria Wilson, said: “No one wants to see counterfeit goods on sale in our communities. It’s bad for our local economy, the goods can be unsafe and legitimate local traders can be driven out of business.

“It’s wonderful news that Newcastle Outdoor Market has signed up to the Real Deal charter, which will give customers real peace of mind and legitimate businesses the chance to compete on a level playing field.

“The Real Deal campaign has already been a huge success in Staffordshire. It gives us all the opportunity to work together to combat the sale of illicit, counterfeit goods.”

The NMG is a partnership of law enforcement, government and industry stakeholders, supported by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA).

Graham Mogg, Chair of the NMG and ACG Intelligence Co-ordinator, said: “Counterfeit products bring a host of problems: consumers are ripped off; untested products are potentially unsafe; legitimate businesses lose sales; revenue is lost from the economy to the black market; and often the trade is linked to organised crime. Most people involved in market shopping or trading would be horrified to think that they may, unwittingly, be funding organised crime. We are grateful to Newcastle-under-Lyme Market and Staffordshire County Council Trading Standards for working together on the Real Deal programme. They are sending out a strong message that fakes are not welcome at this market.”

Gavin Terry, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute Lead Officer for Intellectual Property (IP), added: “The trade in fake goods presents real threats to consumer safety and to businesses that play by the rules. Initiatives like the Real Deal foster a co-ordinated approach between trading standards, marketplaces and IP rights owners. As council resources become increasingly stretched, this type of partnership helps to support the work of trading standards in ensuring that communities benefit from safe, fair trading practices.

Markets ‘Building Back Better’ with the Real Deal

As the UK continues its journey out of lockdown, markets across the country are focusing on rebuilding footfall from shoppers, attracting new traders and staking their place at the heart of local communities. For many market operators that means strengthening their customer quality assurances, including promoting their market as a fake-free zone.

In recent weeks, the Real Deal office has received an increasing number of enquiries from markets keen to start the process towards signing the Real Deal charter, as well as from existing Real Deal markets wanting to re-promote their fake-free status. Displaying the Real Deal charter and logo is a visible demonstration that counterfeit products and other illegal goods will not be tolerated at that location. It shows that the market is working with local trading standards to protect shoppers and stand up for businesses who play by the rules.

In this video, Mike Walsh, Manager at Newton Abbot Market, and one of the traders, Diane Smith, describe the benefits of signing the Real Deal charter. Watch the video here – https://youtu.be/Fdqst1b0KW8

More than 500 markets across the country have already signed the Real Deal charter with their local trading standards service. Through the project, they have access to guidance, information and promotional support.

Market operators interested in joining the Real Deal programme, and those that have previously signed the charter and wish to re-promote their fake-free status, can get the ball rolling by emailing info@realdealmarkets.co.uk

Resources to help market businesses stay ‘IP legal’

Part of the Real Deal’s mission is to help market operators be better informed about intellectual property (IP) laws in order to protect shoppers and support legitimate businesses.

Here are just some of the ways that markets can improve their knowledge of this important area.

NABMA DMA: As part of the NABMA Diploma in Market Administration, Gavin Terry, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s (CTSI) Lead Officer for IP, provides a session on intellectual property (IP) and trading standards law, accompanied by a session on the Real Deal programme. The NABMA Diploma course has been running for eight years and over 200 market officers have gained the Level 4 professional qualification. For more info, email diploma@nabma.com

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s Business Companion: A useful resource for market officers is the CTSI’s free to access online guide for businesses: ‘businesscompanion – trading standards law explained’. The website can be viewed at: https://www.businesscompanion.info/


It includes a wide range of information, including useful sections on: on-premises sales including market stalls, intellectual property and car boot fairs


‘How to Stay IP Legal’ information leaflet

This leaflet, produced by the Real Deal campaign, provides some very simple steps that will help you stay within the law. Click here to download the leaflet.

The Real Deal Code of Practice: This is the first step to joining the Real Deal programme and underpins the whole initiative. Developed with input from all stakeholders, including IP rights owners, trading standards and NABMA, it sets out straightforward, robust procedures that will help a market ensure that they have the right systems in place to ensure fake-free trading. A copy of the Code of Practice can be downloaded here .

For more information on joining the Real Deal, email info@realdealmarkets.co.uk


The information on this page is for guidance only and is not designed to be a replacement for professional advice.


IP Crime and Enforcement Report 19/20 highlights the importance of combining ‘behavioural change amongst consumers’ and ‘enforcement’.

In her introduction to this year’s IP Crime and Enforcement Report, Amanda Solloway MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Science, Research and Innovation) notes, “2020 has been a year of unexpected challenges and the dedication illustrated by the practitioner-led testimonies and the statistical analysis in this report testify to the resilience, flexibility and commitment of the UK IP Crime Group members. As we reset our agendas so that achieving behavioural change amongst consumers is added to deterrence, enforcement and evidence-gathering as our main priorities.”

The Report includes contributions from the National Markets Group for IP Protection and its public awareness initiative, the Real Deal Campaign for Fake-Free Markets (pages 36 and 49 respectively).

The NMG and Real Deal were highlighted in the Report’s chapter: IP Crime Today: Overview – The Scale and Scope of IP Crime (chapter 2, page 14):

“Contributions from National Trading Standards, the National Markets Group for IP Protection and Real Deal point to the development of efficient, coordinated, well documented interventions, delivered by experience and knowledgeable experts throughout the UK. One the most significant successes in this field has been engagement with the ‘Real Deal Charter’, with Manchester City Council celebrating 10 years of successful partnership between Trading Standards Officers and market traders in December 2019. The vitality of this scheme was demonstrated as Dudley Council entered the partnership in 2019, joining more than 500 participatory markets throughout the UK.” 

Read the full report here: IP Crime and Enforcement Report 19/20

Top tips on how to avoid falling for fake goods

Celia Cox’s article in The Edinburgh Tab provides sound advice for anyone tempted by a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ bargain.

Can you spot which watch is fake? Answer at the foot of this article . . .

Ever wondered how on earth you managed to get so lucky and find a bargain Louis Vuitton handbag or affordable Gucci sunglasses on eBay? Well I’m sorry to break it to you, but it was probably a fake. That’s the unfortunate first rule of spotting fake designer goods: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If you’re now frantically re-thinking every purchase you’ve ever made, don’t despair. There are campaigns out there fighting the sale of counterfeit goods on a large scale, such as The Real Deal Campaign for Fake-Free Markets and The Anti-Counterfeit Group (ACG), but by learning how to spot and avoid fake items, you can protect yourself.

Read the full article at The Tab . . . .


Photo courtesy of The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (www.a-cg.org)

So which was the fake watch? Answer: both of them!


Real Deal: helping markets to give an added assurance to customers and traders


During the Covid-19 crisis, the provision of food and other essential supplies by those markets that have been able to remain open has demonstrated their value to local communities.

Now, as more retail venues reopen, the Real Deal is supporting NABMA’s campaign to make sure that markets are back at the heart of UK cities, towns and communities, providing a safe and fair environment in which to shop and to trade.

What is the Real Deal and how does it benefit markets?

The Real Deal programme helps market operators give an added assurance to their customers and traders that the location is free from the sale of counterfeit goods and other illegal products. Over the past ten years, over 500 markets have signed the Real Deal Charter with their local trading standards service.

Signing the Charter is a powerful PR opportunity, demonstrating that the market and local trading standards are working together to combat the sale of fake goods – protecting shoppers, legitimate traders and the wider community. More information is at www.realdealmarkets.co.uk

Let people know you’re a Real Deal market

If your market has already signed the Charter, now is a good time to remind everyone. You can use the Real Deal logo on your website, signage, banners etc. And you can get the message out via social media, follow and tag us on Instagram at @realdealmarkets and Twitter @realdeal_market and we’ll follow you back and retweet.

We also have a supply of printed posters available to Real Deal markets while stocks last (pictured below). The poster artwork is also available for markets to print out themselves. To request posters, artwork or the logo, contact details are below.

Join in!

Or, if your market has not yet signed the Real Deal Charter and you would like to come on board, contact us and we will be happy to talk it through with you. It’s a very straightforward process!

In these difficult times, markets need all the resources they can get to demonstrate their value to local communities. Being part of the Real Deal can be a useful part of your message to your local authority and to your community at large.