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Dennis Collopy

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) commissioned research in 2015, by a team led by the University of Hertfordshire, on the impact of social media on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), specifically to assess the ways in which social media platforms might facilitate IPR infringement in relation to physical goods (‘counterfeits’). The range of trade bodies and sectors involved in the research was shaped by those whose goods were most widely impacted by the availability of illicit goods through social media. Employing the required methodology for assessing the extent of social media’s effect on IPR in physical goods meant there were two key aims: firstly, to compare data and insights from industry, government and consumers to produce a representation of recent levels of counterfeiting within the UK and, secondly, to assess the extent to which this kind of illicit behaviour is moving online and is being facilitated by online social media platforms. The more specific objectives of the study involved assessments of the scale, impact and characteristics of infringements, as well as opportunities for IPR.