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Counterfeiters see social media platforms as a “haven”, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has warned in its latest report.
Released on Monday, September 4, the report was commissioned by the IPO to understand the extent to which counterfeiting is moving online and gauge how social media platforms have helped this.
According to industry and government sources used for the report, social media plays a “significant and growing role” in the sale and distribution of fake goods.
“By providing relative safety within closed groups, as well as the ability to link to off-platform sites for payment, it is easy to see why social media can be regarded as a critical link in the counterfeiting chain,” said the report.
The report also obtained data from consumers which reinforced the claim that social media platforms encouraged IP infringement and that it is “particularly flagrant within closed groups”.
“Social media amplifies counterfeiters’ messages by increasing the connectivity of potential complicit consumers,” claimed the report. “Crucially, these connections do not have to be strong, as the threshold for connection on social media is low.”
Social media platforms provided data on levels of IP rights infringement identified on their platforms in 2015.
Twitter’s data indicated a decline in claims for trademark infringement in the second half of 2015—the number of trademark notices received by Twitter and Vine had declined by 33% in the six months up to December 2015 (8,588 compared with the 12,911 in the previous January–June 2015 report).
The report added that estimates from government and industry sources on recent levels of counterfeiting within the UK are “inadequate and cannot be scaled to reflect the total activity within the market”.
The IPO recommended improving industry cooperation in “supplying essential headline data for government and policy makers to more easily understand the trend in the market”.
UKIPO, UK Intellectual Property Office, counterfeits, anti-counterfeiting, social media