In June and July this year, Operation Jasper, the biggest and longest enforcement action to tackle counterfeiting and piracy on social media, extended its reach into Eire and Scotland as officers from Trading Standards and the Police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are joined by their Scottish and Irish equivalents in the fight against social media counterfeiting. The move is part of the latest phase of Operation Jasper, which was launched in May 2015.
In the latest phase of the operation, Trading Standards officers have carried out a further 17 raids arising from 48 on-going investigations, supported by other enforcement teams now including the Police Service Northern Ireland and the Garda, Ireland’s national police service. The raids were based on evidence provided by the National Markets Group, which coordinates Operation Jasper in partnership with the National Trading Standards eCrime Team and the Intellectual Property Office.
Officers seized thousands of items of counterfeit clothing, CDs, DVDs, footwear, watches, jewellery, handbags, purses, accessories, electrical products, cigarettes, and badges seized, along with the paraphernalia used to manufacture counterfeit goods. In addition, 1750 infringing images were reported to Facebook for removal by rights owners and their agents, 35 more cease and desist notices have been issued, and two warrants have resulted in substantial quantities of cannabis being found.
Since it began last year more than 80 local authorities have worked on Operation Jasper. This has seen:
- around 100 investigations launched, resulting from 59 separate warrants
- 9508 infringing images being removed from social platforms
- 217 warning notices issued along with nearly 100 cease and desist notices
Officers from the National Trading Standards eCrime Team have also worked with key social media channels to remove offending profiles.
Graham Mogg Chair of the National Markets Group and Intelligence Co-ordinator for the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG), said:
“Counterfeiting and piracy undermines our economy by threatening the innovation and creativity of British companies, stunting the development of new goods and services and in some cases injuring or killing British consumers. This is why the National Markets Group is determined to cross as many borders as needed to stamp out counterfeiting in both online and physical markets. Comprised of industry, Government and enforcement representatives, NMG members including Alliance Against IP Theft, Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), TM Eye, REACT (Europe), and the Anti-Counterfeiting Group are working hard to clean up counterfeiting and piracy on social media.”
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards said:
“Social media knows no boundaries, so extending this work throughout the England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and now into Eire shows how determined enforcement agencies are to extend their international reach against counterfeiting and piracy. We are working closely with other international law enforcement and consumer protection agencies to target the criminals behind these schemes, many of whom operate as organised crime groups across different countries.
“Whilst this landmark investigation is tracking down the culprits, I would also like to urge consumers to remain vigilant and report any suspected online scams to the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline on: 03454 04 05 06.”
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister for Intellectual Property, said:
“Intellectual property crime hurts businesses and consumers across the country. I am pleased to see that the hard work of the IPO and a wide range of enforcement agencies is paying off. Together we can turn the tide against IP criminals.
“Operation Jasper has shown that criminals and rogue traders can no longer hide behind online anonymity. The ongoing successful partnership between Government, enforcement agencies, and rights holders is having a major impact on those looking to profit from IP crime.”