A new police unit aimed at tackling online piracy and other intellectual property crime is to be established with significant funding from The Intellectual Property Office.

The establishment of the new unit, which is to be run by the City of London Police, was announced by Intellectual Property Minister, Lord Younger and City of London Police Commissioner, Adrian Leppard.

Consumer habits are continually evolving and the increase in the use of the internet to shop for goods and information shows no signs of abating. It is perhaps inevitable that the online environment would give fresh and increased opportunity for the illegal exploitation of Intellectual Property rights.

Many companies have been battling with online counterfeiting for some time and it presents a number of unique challenges which may involve not only the counterfeiters, but online marketplace operators and Internet Service Providers.

The law continues to evolve to try and protect Intellectual Property right holders in the online environment and Companies will no doubt welcome the announcement and be eager to provide support to the new Unit.

It is estimated that around 7 million people a month visit sites offering illegal content in the UK, which in turn provides a real threat to legitimate businesses, jobs and tax revenue.

The new Unit, whilst operated by the City of London Police, will, according to Adrian Leppard, create ‘an operationally independent police unit that will co-ordinate the national and international response from law enforcement and public and private sector partners so we can effectively target those who continue to illegally profiteer on the back of others endeavours.’