Skip to main content

Intellectual Property Crime (or IPC) is committed when someone manufactures, sells or distributes counterfeit (fake) or pirated goods such as patents, trademarks, industrial designs or literary and artistic works for commercial gain.

Counterfeit watches
Counterfeit watches

Selling Counterfeit Goods

As a seller - It is a criminal offence to sell counterfeit goods or to sell items bearing a trademark without being a licence holder. Profits you make as a seller of counterfeit goods can be seized as proceeds of crime.

As a buyer - It may be common view that getting a designer handbag at a fraction of the price, or buying a smartphone charger for £5 at a market means you are getting the same product. You are not.

Supports Serious and Organised Crime

The reality of Intellectual Property Crime is that it is funded by and supports serious and organised crime. It is the 24.9 million people in forced labour. It is the millions of victims of human trafficking every year.

  • IPC holds the same value of the annual trade of illegal drugs. 
  • IPC is serious injury and death such as a death in a house fire as a result of poorly made, illicit, cigarettes. 
  • IPC accounts for 3% of all international trade. 
  • IPC covers any and every commodity you can imagine, from alcohol and cigarettes to electrical goods and children’s toys. 
  • Infringements of intellectual property rights reduce the revenues of the affected businesses.
  • It equates to £9 billion in loss to the UK economy alone, every year. 

Harm Caused by Intellectual Property Crime

Intellectual Property Crime causes substantial harm. For example, we know that 30% of all consumers are buying fake electrical items and 98% of those are deemed extremely dangerous and fail safety standards. This could result in at best, a burnt socket in your home, at worst a poorly made Vape device blowing up in someone’s face or a charger resulting in catastrophic house fire. 

We know that vodka is the most counterfeited beverage in the world, and in Northern Ireland, industrial strength alcohol has been found in quantities seized. 

Counterfeit tobacco factories are found to use water from toilets and the final products contain human faecal matter and cleaning chemicals. 

Illegal television and film streaming services are an enormous funding stream for criminals and terrorists. 

Counterfeit handbags
Counterfeit handbags

Counterfeit handbags, clothing, shoes or toys may be cheaper to buy, but often these are poorly made by people trafficked and exploited into making these goods in sweatshops all around the world. The goods will be sub-standard. Clothing may not be flame retardant. Children's toys may contain choke hazards. Electrical goods may not comply with safety standards. 

Genuine cigarettes have ‘speed bumps’ to prevent or stop burning when they are not being smoked. Deaths have been caused when people have fallen asleep and their cigarettes have burnt freely and caused house fires.

Report Intellectual Property Crime

If you suspect someone is committing Intellectual Property Crime (IPC) offences you can:

Contact police on 101, the non-emergency line or report online.

Contact Northern Ireland Trading Standards Service on 0300 123 6262.

If you want to stay anonymous, you can give information to the independent charity Crimestoppers on freephone 0800 555 111 or online at

There is no caller line display, no 1471 facility and computer IP addresses are never traced or provided to police.