Major counterfeiting and trademark infringements operation broken up

Trademark and Rights Holders Against Piracy (TRAP) has announced that a major operation illegally making and selling trademarked clothing via eBay and Amazon has been broken up

Following a two-year investigation by brand protection company Surelock Global Investigators & Security Consultants, the industrial-scale screen printing operation, in which the registered trademarks of leading music artists, bands and sports teams were illegally printed onto apparel and then sold online, has been stopped and the gang behind it prosecuted in a case brought by West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

Apparel using imagery and logos of major names such as Arctic Monkeys, Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, The Rolling Stones and Nirvana generated global counterfeit sales of over £470,000 for the Yorkshire-based gang over a five-year period.

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. Online platforms are a major target. Now TRAP, a worldwide collective of rights holders and publishers, is fighting back. Working with the biggest names in music, film, TV, art and sport, TRAP 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 says: “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.”

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