On August 30, officers from the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) executed a search warrant at four addresses in Manchester’s Cheetham Hill area. Hundreds of fancy dress items bearing unauthorized trademarks were seized.
The operation was initiated following a crime report made by dress manufacturers, Rubie’s Masquerade, to PIPCU earlier this year, resulting in two men aged 38 and 47 from Manchester and one female 34 from Manchester, being arrested and interviewed under caution.
Counterfeit fancy dress clothing is not subjected to the same rigorous testing as genuine items and therefore poses a public safety risk to consumers. The risks could involve suffocation, poisoning from untested dyes and colourings and strangulation due to the lack of appropriate fastenings. Furthermore, the packaging of the clothing does not meet safety standards.
Further investigation is ongoing.
The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit is a specialist national police unit dedicated to protecting the UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content from intellectual property crime. PIPCU tackles serious and organised intellectual property crime (counterfeit and piracy) affecting physical and digital goods (with the exception of pharmaceutical goods) with a focus on offences committed using an online platform. The unit is operationally independent and launched in September 2013 with £2.56million funding from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) until June 2015. The IPO has approved additional funding of £3.32 million for PIPCU, to cover the period to June 30, 2019. The funding was officially announced at this year’s Intellectual Property Crime Conference in New York.