Scottish Business Resilience Centre warns businesses to confront the topic head on, or risk suffering at the hands of counterfeiters
International crime experts and leading Scottish businesses will converge on Glasgow on Friday to highlight the importance of adjusting attitudes towards intellectual property theft in the battle against an increasing global menace.
A key business speaker at the SBRC led event, ‘The Real McCoy’ will be a leading figure from Harris Tweed, an industry which attributes much of its success to having the protection of intellectual property at its core.
An integral part of the Hebridean economy, sustaining 350 jobs on the islands, Harris Tweed has the protection of heritage dating back to 1909, with the oldest continuously marked trademark in Scotland.
Although attempts have been made to illicitly label non Harris Tweed cloth with the trademark, the celebrated material is also produced with a certification mark, another level of protection, plus the Harris Tweed Act 1993, which strictly outlines the conditions in which the cloth can genuinely be made and has limited the impact of counterfeiting.
Mark Hogarth, who is the creative director of Harris Tweed Hebrides, is set to present to a conference of delegates including business influencers and leaders from crime fighting authorities.
He said: “At Harris Tweed as well as other world renowned luxury Scottish brands, the luxury is in the process. It’s really important, to try to obtain some form of protection on the process as well as the finished goods.”
Authentic cloth and garments are issued with the Harris Tweed Orb Mark after inspection by the Harris Tweed Authority, the industry’s governing body.
Lorna Macauley, chief executive of the Harris Tweed Authority, said: “Harris Tweed owes a huge deal to the foresight of those within the industry back in 1909 to incorporate strict controls over production including the registration of the trademark.
“Mills cannot produce one metre of cloth without Harris Tweed authenticating it as genuine – so the protection of intellectual property is built into the very structure of the industry.
“Like any industry we can’t afford to be complacent. Although there is a great deal of bad practice there is also some great work in the area. We ourselves often look to learn from some of the work of the Scotch Whisky industry.”
“We now take every possible opportunity to highlight the unique steps involved in making Harris Tweed, from the breeding and selection of sheep, the gathering of wool, the creation of the dyes and the weaving process.
“That is a crucial part of telling the story of the centuries of tradition and craftsmanship involved. To discerning consumers that is every bit as important as the label itself.”
The issue will be highlighted at the upcoming conference, The Real McCoy, a public event that will address the full spectrum of anti-illicit trade. It will focus on consumer goods, such as fashion wear and accessories but also food produce, medical products and technology.
Hosted by the SBRC, the event, which takes place at Glasgow City Chambers, on 27 May, will coincide with a fully interactive live ‘street market’ stocked with fake products, located on George Square and intended to highlight the often hidden dangers of fake goods to the wider public.
Chief inspector Ronald Megaughin, deputy director of the SBRC, said: “Criminals are profiteering from Scottish brands’ fear of tackling copyright and intellectual property theft.
“So many Scots products are quite obviously in demand due to their reputation across the world, with their heritage and complicated process of manufacture being a huge selling point.
“However, it is exactly this that is leading to criminals funding their illicit activities through intellectual property theft. If brands don’t recognise the clear and present danger then they could face irreparable reputation damage.”
There will be representatives from from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Alliance of Safe Online Pharmacy (ASOP EU) who will discuss the danger of the illicit trade in medicines and medical devices.
The SBRC is also set to welcome a speaker from Business in the Community for China to discuss advice for Scottish businesses looking to engage with the emerging Chinese economy.
The event will be hosted by Michael Ellis of Interpol who, based in France, will discuss his unique take on the international and often dark forces moving these illicit goods.
Previously known for his campaign against the trading of fake alcohol, Michael was at the helm of one of the world’s largest ever seizures of fake food and drink.