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A trading standards inspector is to receive a prestigious award for his work following a successful prosecution under the Trade Marks Act 1994.
James Potter was nominated to receive a National Markets Group (NMG) award for Individual Excellence in Intellectual Property Enforcement for his perseverance, dedication and coordination regarding raids against Facebook traders resulting in the seizure of over 2,000 items and a successful conviction at court.
Successful raid in Cowes
Following a raid at residential premises at Cowes, 26 trademarks were found including Chanel, Superdry, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Nike, Converse, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ted Baker, Gucci, Prada, Superdry, Ugg, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors and Hugo Boss.
The items were being sold through a resident’s Facebook account and officers calculated that had all of these goods been sold at the prices offered on the Facebook page, it would have netted in the region of £46,000. If these were genuine, the approximate retail value would have been between £300,000 and £500,000.
The individual concerned received a sentence of 18 months imprisonment (suspended for two years) as well as 15 days unpaid work.
This was one of the biggest seizures undertaken on the Island and was following intelligence gained from the NMG through an initiative called Operation Jasper.
Enforcement action was then co-ordinated by the National Trading standards e-crime team in conjunction with Local Authority Trading Standards teams as part of the national operation to tackle individuals using social media to sell dangerous or counterfeit items.
The Isle of Wight Council Cabinet member for community safety and public protection, Councillor Gary Peace, said:
“We are extremely proud of James for his outstanding work on this investigation, and also for the work of the whole Isle of Wight trading standards team, in their efforts to tackle this illegal trade. James’ exceptional hard work on Operation Jasper and his tenacity in making sure that we continue to expose these criminals epitomises the professionalism of the whole team.
“Although the lure of cheap counterfeit items may appeal to many, few realise the impact on legitimate businesses or realise the links to organised crimes. Once again, I would like to congratulate James in being given this prestigious award.”
Not possible without support of colleagues
Council trading standards inspector, James Potter, said:
“I feel extremely honoured to have been nominated to receive this award. However, this investigation and result wouldn’t have been possible without the support from colleagues in the team. To achieve this result in a very small team on the Isle of Wight is something I feel very proud of.
“Enforcing our statutory duty under the Trade Marks Act 1994 is very important as those involved selling counterfeit goods harm our economy. I’m pleased that the goods were ordered to be forfeited to the Authority and they are now in the process of being de-branded by a charity and re-branded with their logo. Once this has been completed, the clothing will be distributed to low income families or homeless shelters throughout the UK and abroad.
“This was a fantastic investigation to be part of and I thank the NMG for this award, the National Trading Standards e-Crime Team, police, the trade mark holders, colleagues in my team and colleagues in the legal team for their support.”
IWC team integral to continued success
Graham Mogg, intelligence co-ordinator for the Anti-Counterfeiting Group and chair of the NMG, said:
“The NMG promotes a true partnership approach to reducing the threat to consumers and legitimate business from the sale of counterfeit, pirated and unsafe products. When criminals infiltrate and undermine social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, consumers are put at risk of injury and harm.
“Operation Jasper targets the wholesale suppliers at markets and retail premises, as well as the traders operating on social media. This joint private and public sector approach is reaping rewards and the role played by James and the team at Isle of Wight Trading Standards is integral to our continued success. We congratulate them on the successful outcome of their investigation and I am delighted to be able to visit the Island to present the award on behalf of the NMG.”
To be used as test case
The case on the Isle of Wight has also been used as an example at a presentation to CEPOL (European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training), where there were representatives from Lithuania, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Serbia, Czech and Slovenia. It will also be used as a test case by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to put on their website, to help inform and provide guidance.
James received his award on Friday 14 July.