Intellectual property crime
Intellectual property enforcement
What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property refers to creative work which can be treated as an asset or physical property. Intellectual property rights fall principally into four main areas; copyright, trademarks, design rights and patents.
A trademark is any sign which can distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another. A sign includes words, logos, colours, slogans, three-dimensional shapes and sometimes even sounds and gestures.
Counterfeit goods are manufactured using trademarks, trade names or other devices, to make them look like genuinely produced, popular branded goods. Traditionally, the products counterfeited are sports and leisurewear, watches, DVDs, CDs and computer games.
You can find out more at the Intellectual Property Office.
Keeping Fife Fake Free
Trading Standards enforcement officers regularly inspect the various markets and events that take place throughout the year in Fife. They vary in size from well-attended annual events to small, local car boot sales held in car parks.
Many markets and sales have become an attractive venue for sellers of counterfeit goods. Our officers have become experienced at detecting illegal merchandise and will use their powers to seize the goods and have the owner prosecuted.
Our enforcement officers also carry out checks of online selling sites such as Facebay, E-Bay, Gumtree, etc. for counterfeit goods being sold in Fife.
We aim to raise awareness of the ongoing problem of counterfeiting and to make people aware of the consequences of it. Also to highlight what Fife Council, in partnership with other enforcement bodies like Police Scotland and industry funded bodies such the Federation against Copyright Theft (FACT) and the Anti-Counterfeiting Group are doing to combat the issue.
The Brand-i.org site is delivered with the support of the National Trading Standards e-crime team, the site allows you to search for genuine products from brand owner approved online sellers.
Stay safe online
The internet has revolutionised the way we live our lives – enabling us to read the news, enjoy entertainment, carry out research, book holidays, buy and sell, shop, network, learn, bank and carry out many other everyday tasks.
However, there are a number of risks associated with going online. These result from either visiting malicious websites or inadvertent disclosure of personal information.
Get Safe Online is the UK’s leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety.
Their website is a unique resource providing practical advice on how to protect yourself, your computers and mobile devices. Every conceivable topic is included on the site – helping to keep you safe online.
Dangers of buying counterfeits
- Counterfeiters don’t limit themselves to fake designer handbags and clothing anymore. Cigarettes, alcohol, electrical products, power tools, food, medicines, toys and sports equipment are also copied with potentially dangerous consequences for you as a consumer.
- Fake alcohol can contain methanol, a chemical that can cause blindness, coma and death. Counterfeit bottles of alcohol often imitate well known brands in an attempt to reassure people that the product is safe.
- Fake beauty products often contain sub-standard ingredients that could give you a rash or an allergic reaction. Some bottles of fake perfume have even been found to use ingredients like urine as a stabiliser.
- Look out for products sold in packaging featuring spelling or grammatical mistakes. Always buy your beauty products from a trusted source to help keep you safe from fakes.
- Electrical goods sold in the UK are subject to stringent safety testing. Counterfeit electrical goods often sidestep these testing requirements. This means fake electrical goods, including hair straighteners, mobile phones and camera chargers, may contain unsafe wiring that can lead to over-heating creating risks of fire, electrocution and personal injury. Fake electrical goods may even be labelled with fake certification marks, so you think that they are safe.
- Children’s toys are subject to strict safety testing. Counterfeit toys often won't have been tested. As a result fakes could contain small parts that are a choking hazard.
Reasons you should never buy counterfeits
- Counterfeiting is illegal and buying counterfeit products can support illegal activity.
- Counterfeiters do not pay taxes meaning less money for your community's schools, hospitals and parks.
- Counterfeiters do not pay their employees fair wages or benefits, have poor working conditions, and often use forced child labour.
- The profits from counterfeiting have been linked to funding organised crime, drug trafficking and terrorist activity.
- When you buy a fake, you become part of the cycle of counterfeiting and your money directly supports these things you would never want to support.
How can you help?
Report counterfeiting in Fife on our Trading Standards reporting form.
Please be assured however, if you have bought counterfeit items in the past or have them in your possession for private use, you have not committed a criminal offence.
Further information & useful links
Citizens Advice Consumer Service works in partnership with Trading Standards. Their trained advisers offer free, confidential and impartial advice on a range of consumer issues including disputes with a trader. The consumer helpline will assess your problem, provide advice and if necessary, share the information you provide with Trading Standards or another appropriate agency.
You can contact them by:
- Telephone on 03454 04 05 06.
- Visiting citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland to find out what your rights are and how to take action.
In Fife, you can also contact Citizens Advice & Rights Fife.
You can report fraud and scams online at actionfraud.police.uk.
Tel: 01592 583141 Fax: 01592 583318 Contact Trading Standards online
By Post: Kingdom House Kingdom Avenue Glenrothes Fife KY7 5LY