Largest Ever UK Bust of Game Counterfeiters

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A raid at a detached house in Surrey has resulted in the largest seizure of its kind in the UK in the fight against illegal game copying devices. A web-based business was alleged to be importing and selling Nintendo DS copying devices worldwide via the internet. Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) knew something was wrong when large consignments of the illegal game copying devices started showing up at airports across the UK. These were seized and HMRC alerted IP investigators from ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association).

ELSPA’s anti-piracy team worked with Surrey Trading Standards culminating in the Surrey raid where they discovered thousands of game copying devices which allegedly infringe both the Trade Marks Act 1994 and Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. The items have been seized and sent for forensic examination by ELSPA.

At the house investigators discovered a fully operational ‘production line’ along with a fully detailed trading history for the business. Records found at the property revealed evidence of trading worth £ in the hundreds of thousands. A simultaneous raid at a second business premises was carried out by the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames Trading Standards, but the premises were found to be empty.

Financial investigations have now begun with a view to restraining any assets connected with criminal conduct.

Michael Rawlinson, Director General of ELSPA, said: “This case demonstrates the enormous financial risk faced by those who import and sell illegal copying devices. ELSPA would like to thank HMRC, the thorough and professional investigation by Surrey Trading Standards department and ELSPA investigators. Together they continue to prove that increasingly pirates are paying very high prices for pursuing illegal business activities that rob our industry of their innovative IP.”

Peter Denard, Head of Surrey Trading Standards, added: “We are committed to working with ELSPA and rights owners on criminal activity of this kind. We will respond to requests where there is evidence of intellectual property theft in Surrey, which causes huge detriment to legitimate businesses. This type of crime will not be tolerated in Surrey and criminals can expect to be pursued to the full extent of the law and risk losing both their liberty and ill-gotten gains.”

The maximum penalty upon conviction for offences under the Trade Marks Act is an unlimited fine and/or up to 10 years imprisonment.

In : PC

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