As a proud member of the CTSI Wales Branch for more than 15 years I have a strong affinity with the Trading Standards profession – I was even a warranted officer in Suffolk for seven months while setting up and managing the NTSeCT Intel Team.
Taking up the post of Vice Chair of the branch last year and helping to organise the Spring Training in Swansea in April reminded me of the swathe of legislation that Trading Standards officers have to deal with outside of intellectual property (IP) crime.
That has always driven WRi Group to provide as much support as possible to assist Trading Standards with IP investigations and training.
Last year I was honoured by CTSI with a Hero Award for my services to the community and the profession; we also picked up a Small Business of the Year award. This year, we have won several more awards in recognition of our team’s achievements (see below).
However, whilst it was great to be acknowledged in this way, to be honest, working with and supporting dynamic and diligent Trading Standards professionals across the UK on operational and project work brings us much more pleasure.
So it was great to read that 4 million counterfeit products with a market value of £111m, which breach the intellectual property of legitimate businesses, were seized by Trading Standards in England and Wales in 2021/22, according to the latest ACTSO report.
Change in the air
Over the past 15 years or so the IP enforcement landscape has changed dramatically. Severe Government cuts to Trading Standards have taken their toll and while Trading Standards is still the lead agency to tackle IP crime, many authorities are unable to proactively take forward IP investigations due to limited resources or experience in this area.
The creation of the Police IP Crime Unit (PIPCU) in London and the North West has definitely been a huge asset to rights owners in tackling serious and organised crime and the development of the IPO’s Intelligence Hub and IP Crime Group, of which we are a member, compliments those successes.
The team at WRi and our client brands fully appreciate that industry has a part to play in the prevention and detection of IP crime as the phenomenon cannot be purely eradicated by enforcement. More often than ever before, private companies – the victims of IP crime – are being asked to fund projects, resources, operational activity, storage, logistics and investigations to enable the authorities to take action.
Teaming up on IP
This year to date we have initiated more than 300 IP investigations on behalf of our clients, supported numerous authorities with logistics, resources and storage, self-funded projects to facilitate raid actions in key counterfeiting locations, trained more than 400 Trading Standards officers in all aspects of the criminal justice system via our WRi Academy, and sponsored CTSI and industry events to promote and celebrate the TS profession.
Whilst we and our clients are more than happy to provide such support, it’s time for Government agencies such as the IPO to step in with financial support to local authority Trading Standards services to ensure that consumers and legitimate businesses are protected from the threat that IP crime poses.
As the Intelligence Coordinator at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) for the past 10 years and Chair of the National Markets Group for IP Protection (NMG) for the past eight years, I have had the pleasure of seeing first-hand the benefit of a public/private sector collaboration.
Although many members of these entities have competing priorities, the core values are the same and the lawful sharing of intelligence on active physical and online counterfeiting has brought about huge successes, mitigating the risk to consumers and businesses and bringing serious criminals to justice.
As those that know me will testify, catching bad guys and protecting society has been my passion for more than 40 years, in the Police, at the IPO and during the past 12 years in the private sector. Despite the rumours, and despite stepping down from my role at ACG and NMG, I have not retired!
On the contrary, I am re-focusing my time to develop WRi Group and identify different ways to tackle IP crime, to reduce the impact on our client brands and the burden on enforcement agencies.
That said, as a family business, the team of 15 – led by my son and daughter – do all the hard work, and I congratulate them all on the successes of 2022 which include:
- A Special Recognition Touchstone Award from The British Hallmarking Council, Assay Offices of the UK and the National Association of Jewellers for the ‘most effective initiative undertaken in relation to hallmarking enforcement’.
- CTSI Highly Commended Hero Award for our services to the IP enforcement community
- Shortlisted for International Business of the Year, Caerphilly Business Club Awards
- Our staff member Kieran Skiff was shortlisted for Apprentice of the Year Award, Caerphilly Business Club Awards
- WRi Academy receiving glowing references from Trading Standards delegates attending our training courses
- WRi Intel developing a global offering to mitigate the risks to consumers and business from online and physical IP crime
As a Corporate CTSI member with a history of promoting and supporting the Trading Standards profession you can count on us to assist you in any way possible.
Public and Private sector agencies can work together effectively to tackle all forms of crime, but particularly IP Crime, and lawful sharing of intelligence is permitted for the prevention and detection of crime.
If you are looking to initiate an IP investigation, require support in any aspect of an investigation, or training in any aspect of the criminal justice system, then please get in touch on 02921 202597 or email@example.com – www.wri-group.com