A new police unit aimed at targeting intellectual property crime is to be created to help save the UK economy millions of pounds each year.
The unit, one of the first of its kind in the world, will tackle online piracy and other forms of intellectual property crime such as counterfeit goods.
The Intellectual Property Office will provide £2.5 million in funding over two years to the City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud, to establish and run the unit. It is expected the unit will be operational in September.
Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger said: "Intellectual property crime has long been a problem in the world of physical goods, but with the growing use of the internet, online intellectual property crime is now an increasing threat to our creative industries. These industries are worth more than £36 billion a year and employ more than 1.5 million people.”
Adrian Leppard, Commissioner of the City of London Police, said: "Intellectual property crime is costing the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds each year, with organised crime gangs causing significant damage to industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content in an increasingly competitive climate.”
He said the new unit would co-ordinate the national and international response from law enforcement and public and private sector partners, adding: “In doing so, we will also be safeguarding jobs and protecting people’s personal and computer safety by ensuring they are not exposed to counterfeit goods and unauthorised copyrighted content.”
Around seven million people a month visit sites offering illegal content in the UK. Globally, it is projected that digitally pirated music, films and software will account for losses of around $240bn by 2015.