Mobilizing global action against intellectual property crime

12 October 2021
Threat posed by intellectual property crime and illicit trade networks focus of international meeting

LYON, France – With a clear link between illicit trade networks and other types of crime, such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, corruption, bribery and money laundering, illicit trade is a global phenomenon with underlying activities across multiple countries and crime areas.

In this respect, law enforcement officials, public sector representatives, as well as security and industry experts from all regions are meeting to boost combined efforts and best practices against the fast-evolving trade in fake and pirated goods.

The 14th International Law Enforcement Intellectual Property (IP) Crime Conference (11 - 13 October) has gathered over 1,000 participants from some 120 countries to address the enforcement challenges posed by digital piracy, the health and safety aspects of IP crime, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event is co-hosted virtually by Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Department and INTERPOL, in partnership with UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.)

A transnational organized crime

The trade in fake and pirated goods is a transnational crime, run by extensive and complex criminal enterprises.

Criminal groups manufacture and sell a wide range of illicit goods and medicines, endangering the public worldwide with substandard and often dangerous products.

The impact is felt across the whole of society and nations. Counterfeiting harms businesses which produce and sell legitimate products; and governments lose tax revenue from products manufactured or sold on the black market.

Keynote speaker Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado Quesada said at the meeting: “Intellectual property is a fundamental pillar for the economic, social and cultural growth and development of our country and any nation in the world; without a doubt we are talking about a tool which helps boost productivity, innovation and competitiveness.”

“It is important that governments commit to developing intellectual property training programmes and enforcement procedures, and shape best practices for the various police, judicial and administrative bodies so that they can effectively support intellectual property rights holders and put in place more effective contingency measures against alleged IP crime infringements,” added President Quesada.

Shaping a coordinated response

INTERPOL provides operational and investigative support against IP crime and the global trade in illicit goods, collecting data and disseminating intelligence, coordinating transnational law enforcement operations, and supporting multi-agency task forces to improve cooperation between police, customs, regulatory bodies and the private sector.

“With illicit markets expanding globally, INTERPOL’s role is fundamental in facilitating capacity building and enabling a coordinated response. This includes regional and global operations aimed at dismantling the transnational organized crime groups involved in illicit trafficking,” said Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

“COVID-19 has brought a stronger public awareness of illicit markets with criminals exploiting every stage of the pandemic. From creating websites and social media accounts claiming to sell protective equipment and medical supplies, to the manufacture and distribution of fake vaccines as well as ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure,” added the Head of INTERPOL.

With online copyright piracy a growing threat around the world, INTERPOL recently launched its Stop Online Piracy (I-SOP) initiative to counter online piracy and crimes involving intellectual property rights infringements, identify and dismantle illicit online marketplaces, target criminal networks and confiscate their assets.

The initiative will coordinate the global law enforcement response to digital piracy which can be highly lucrative for criminals with very low risk. It also has a negative impact on the creative sector and economies, ultimately affecting consumers.

Online training and best practices

To keep pace with the fast-evolving criminal world, police and stakeholders need to continually upgrade their skills, be capable of leveraging high-tech tools and have the latest data at their fingertips.

Through its global network, INTERPOL provides capacity building via its online International IP Crime Investigators College (IIPCIC) in its Capacity Building and Training Directorate, facilitating access to specialized training and best practice sharing.

Its digital training initiatives have also developed significantly during the pandemic, highlighting the value and impact of virtual training platforms allowing participants to access videos, e-learning modules, podcasts, articles, case studies as well as webinars.