Added: (Wed May 08 2002)

Pressbox (Press Release) - LONDON, Leading Intellectual Property (IP) investigators Carratu International plc are predicting a sharp increase in IP abuse. This increase is borne out by the dramatic growth of Carratu International’s investigations in this area on behalf of clients, such as major brand owners, IP lawyers and Trademark and Patent Attorneys.

Recent figures suggest that counterfeit products now account for 10% of world trade. In the United Kingdom counterfeiting, according to the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group, costs companies between £4 billion and £6.6 billion per year. Across the EU this figure rises to between £28 and £40 billion and worldwide the cost is a staggering $200 to $400 billion per year.

Spencer Burgess, Director of Carratu International’s IP Division said, "These figures demonstrate that it is virtually impossible for any successful product to avoid the attention of counterfeiters. Brand abuse takes many forms, but product counterfeiting is the most directly damaging. Not only does it dilute legitimate sales, it can also destroy customer confidence and devalue a company’s most valuable asset - its brand."

Unfortunately, both the public and the authorities often treat counterfeiting as a victimless crime. Nothing could be further from the truth. Through its investigations, Carratu International have found counterfeits linked with drugs, guns, vice and international terrorism. Moreover, a recent publication by the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) has again shown significant involvement by organised criminals in counterfeiting and other types of intellectual property theft.

Spencer Burgess said, "Counterfeiting and Piracy is often perceived as an activity of the petty criminal trying to make a few pounds. This is not the case. It is highly profitable and has strong links to organised criminal groups, often providing funding for other criminal activities. Intellectual property abuse is damaging to economies and suppresses innovation and creativity."

Carratu International’s successful investigations have led to the cracking of international counterfeiting operations, high-profile patent infringements, parallel trading and, more recently, Internet brand abuse. Many of the techniques developed by Carratu International have become standard practice within the profession.

"Counterfeiting can only be reduced by educating the consumer and changing their perception of copy products." said Paul Carratu, Managing Director of Carratu International. "After all, if it were counterfeit drugs or fake brake linings being offered people would not touch them. There also needs to be stricter penalties and greater international collaboration to improve cross-territory controls and enforcement strategies."

In 2000, Carratu International launched its .com Investigations™ service which investigates brand abuse on the Internet and forms an integral part of other IP investigations. Since starting the .com Investigations™ service, Carratu International’s cyber investigators have been involved in bulletin board fraud, libel, database stripping, cyber stalking and hacker tracking and as a result of their successful investigations Carratu International have saved their clients millions of dollars.

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Notes to Editor

1. Spencer Burgess MSc MIPI CFE, Director, IP Division, Carratu International plc. On completion of his Masters degree at Stirling University, Spencer commenced his investigative career with a major oil company specialising in environmental and safety issues. His experience includes the investigation of both on and offshore-based incidents. This was a high-profile role dealing with issues often in a very public forum. In 1997 he joined Carratu International plc where he specialises in the investigation of Intellectual Property abuse, including the complex area of pharmaceutical patent infringement. He has handled complex investigations throughout Europe, North America and South-East Asia. Spencer now heads the Intellectual Property Division. He is an elected member of the Institute of Professional Investigators and has qualified as a Certified Fraud Examiner.

2. Carratu International Plc. Incorporated nearly 40 years ago, Carratu International Plc is one of the UK’s longest established independent, privately owned Corporate Investigation companies. Carratu offers a comprehensive portfolio of services designed to protect and enhance today’s international business community. The company has built a reputation based on the delivery of a high quality service which is discreet, thorough and extremely successful.

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