Trademark and Rights Holders Against Piracy (TRAP) is celebrating the role it played in brining a major operation illegally making and selling trademarked clothing via eBay and Amazon to an end.
The global counterfeit ring based in Yorkshire had generated sales of over £470,000 over a five year period of selling apparel using imagery and logos of major names in music like Arctic Monkeys, Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, and The Rolling Stones.
A two-year investigation by the brand protection company Surelock Global Investigators & Security Consultants, finally saw the Yorkshire gang prosecuted in a case brought by West Yorkshire Trading Standards.
Surelock International has a specialist surveillance team whose members identify UK outlets selling TRAP members’ merchandise. It spent months in dedicated investigations, surveillance and test purchases to identify the gang, the location of the screen print factory, its output and where that output was being sold.
Based on this, six people were arrested and given suspended sentences. Following the prosecution, the gang members’ properties, vehicles and other goods bought by the gang from the proceeds of its operation will contribute to the Proceeds of Crime awards brought against them.
Commercial merchandise piracy costs the industry more than £375 million in lost sales each year, and online platforms are a major target. TRAP, a worldwide collective of rights holders and publishers, is now fighting back, working with the biggest names in music, film, TV, art and sport.
The organisation has been increasing pressure on worldwide marketplaces and auction sites to enforce stricter registration criteria for business seller accounts, as well as partnering with law enforcement agencies and supporting criminal litigation against persistent offenders.
TRAP also plans to work with IP specialists, sellers – helping to educate them on their rights – and lawmakers, with the aim of tightening UK IP laws.
TRAP’s Trevor Jones said: “We are grateful to Surelock and West Yorkshire Trading Standards for their hard work and professionalism. TRAP will continue its work spreading awareness and building anti-piracy alliances to ensure that this sort of crime doesn’t pay.”