The Intellectual Property Office in their 2016/17 Crime Report brings together the key partners who are protecting our businesses and consumers against criminality. The IP crime protection community represents a blending of government, law-enforcers, trade and industry groups and individual companies. Their report provides an insight into the work of the IP crime fighters, from local initiatives against street traders in Manchester, to complex multi-agency initiatives like Operation Jasper, to the development of effective legal remedies against IP crime through the courts.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Specialist Fraud Division (SFD) prosecutes the majority of intellectual property crimes. Whilst CPS areas retain responsibility for a small number of cases, SFD are particularly responsible for the most complex cases. The SFD have a great deal of experience in prosecuting a wide range of cases and are fully equipped to prosecute those that are more complex. SFD continue to work closely with the specialist Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) in the City of London Police to make sure that the CPS is fully prepared for these cases and that there is a consistent and co-ordinated approach going forward.
One of the successful prosecutions was of Re Meraj Gul and Others. In July 2014 the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) received a report of crime from Surelock International Limited (Surelock). Surelock are security consultants and investigators who are authorised to conduct investigations on behalf of music merchandising companies who hold the trade mark rights of various music artists and record labels.
Surelock identified that merchandising comprising of hooded tops, sweaters, t-shirts, vest tops and hats had been sold through the online auction site, eBay by a number of eBay sellers without the consent or authorisation of the genuine rights holder for each of the articles being infringed.
The proceeds of sale were received into PayPal accounts. Once money was deposited into the PayPal accounts it was withdrawn and transferred to personal bank accounts belonging to the sellers.
Between 1 March 2012 and 2 January 2014, Surelock made five test purchases from three eBay accounts which were identified as being used to sell merchandising.
Enquiries were made of eBay and PayPal and as a result suspicion centred on Meraj Gul and others who allowed their accounts to be used to receive funds received via PayPal.
On 3 February 2015 the accused were arrested. A small annex was also discovered at a property which was being used for the production of branded clothing items.
Seized items from this address comprised of electronic items, CCTV equipment, branded and non-branded clothing, documentation relating to the sale and supply of branded clothing, packaging materials, production machinery and vinyl transfers used to produce goods
The various companies have confirmed that neither the accused nor Gul Enterprises Ltd had permission to sell their goods. In total Meraj Gul received £131,382 from PayPal into accounts in his name.
Meraj Gul pleaded guilty to a substantive offence contrary to section 92(1) (b) of the Trade Marks Act 1994.
He accepted that his co-defendants were just acting on his instructions.
In the circumstances it was decided to proceed solely against Meraj Gul.
On 2 June 2017 he was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment and confiscation proceedings were instituted.
For copy of the full report please follow the link below