First announced in the summer of 2013, the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) quickly declared its mission to tackle IP crime both at home and overseas.
In the more than five years since, PIPCU has tackled all kinds of infringement, closely aligning itself with the needs of the music, movie, and publishing industries. As a result, the unit has often been in the headlines tackling torrent and streaming piracy, as well as dealing with organized criminals who flood the market with counterfeit consumer electronics and clothing.
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PIPCU’s 2013 launch was facilitated with £2.56 million in funding from the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO), funding that has continued since. During August 2017, for example, PIPCU said it had received an additional £3.32 million, to safeguard the unit until June 30, 2019.
However, in a report from UK tabloid The Sun yesterday, the publication suggested that PIPCU’s funding could be in question.
“[P]lans for industry stakeholders to fund the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit have fallen through and government funding runs out in June,” the paper claimed.
This was enough for Shadow policing minister Louise Haigh to weigh-in on the issue, openly criticizing the government for not doing enough to protect the public on the Internet.
“It’s about time ministers stopped short-changing the police and gave them the resources they need to keep people safe online,” she said.
To the best of our knowledge, PIPCU has always been funded by the government, so the suggestion that there were recent discussions for the creative industries to contribute financially comes as news to us. Speaking with WTR, PIPCU itself poured cold water on the industry-funding claim.
“PIPCU has always received two year rolling funding from the IPO,” PIPCU Detective Chief Inspector Teresa Russell told the publication.
“While PIPCU’s funding does expire in June, the funding will be extended by the IPO. There have been no recent plans for PIPCU to be funded directly by industry.”
The intention for the government to continue funding PIPCU was confirmed by Dr Ros Lynch at the Intellectual Property Office.
“We are committed to funding the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit beyond June 2019 when the current funding runs out,” Lynch said.
“The unit provides a positive impact on this type of crime and discussions with the City of London Police on future funding is already very advanced.”
The news that PIPCU will be funded beyond June 2019 comes on the heels of the unit receiving praise during the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center’s (GIPC) 6th annual IP Champions event in Washington last year.
Two key players from PIPCU were handed the IP Champion for Excellence in Enforcement award. Detective Chief Superintendent Pete O’Doherty was recognized for his leadership at PIPCU while Nick Court, PIPCU’s former Acting Detective Chief Inspector, was credited for combating illegal online streaming and other digital piracy.