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Top award for Isle of Wight trading standards officer

An Isle of Wight trading standards officer has received a prestigious award for his work. The officer, James Potter got the award for Individual Excellence in Intellectual Property Enforcement from the National Markets Group (NMG) for his perseverance, dedication and coordination following a successful prosecution of Facebook traders under the Trade Marks Act 1994. His work led to the seizure of over 2,000 items and a successful conviction of a rogue trader.

Following a raid on a residential property in the Isle Wight, 26 trademarks were found including Chanel; Superdry; Louis Vuitton; Burberry; Nike; Converse; Abercrombie & Fitch; Ted Baker; Gucci; Prada; Ugg; Jimmy Choo; Michael Kors and Hugo Boss.

Items bearing those trademarks and estimated to be worth around £46,000 in sales to the seller were being sold from a Facebook account linked to the property. However, if these items had been genuine, the real retail cost to the original brands would have been between approximately £300,000 and £500,000.

James’s work, part of the NMG’s Operation Jasper, led to one of the biggest seizures of such goods ever seen on the Isle of Wight. Operation Jasper was co-ordinated on behalf of the NMG by. the National Trading Standards eCrime Team together with Isle of Wight Local Authority Trading Standards teams. The operation is part of the latest phase of a series of national operations against people who use social media to sell dangerous or counterfeit items.

The individual concerned received a sentence of 18 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years, as well as 15 days unpaid work.

Isle of Wight Council Cabinet member for community safety and public protection, Councillor Gary Peace, said:

“We are extremely proud of James for his outstanding work on this investigation, and also for the work of the whole Isle of Wight trading standards team, in their efforts to tackle this illegal trade. James’ exceptional hard work on Operation Jasper and his tenacity in making sure that we continue to expose these criminals epitomises the professionalism of the whole team.
“Although the lure of cheap counterfeit items may appeal to many, few realise the impact on legitimate businesses or realise the links to organised crimes. Once again, I would like to congratulate James in being given this prestigious award.”

Local authority trading standards officer, James Potter, said:

“I feel extremely honoured to have been nominated to receive this award. However, this investigation and result wouldn’t have been possible without the support from colleagues in the team. To achieve this result in a very small team on the Isle of Wight is something I feel very proud of.
“Enforcing our statutory duty under the Trade Marks Act 1994 is very important as those involved in selling counterfeit goods harm our economy. I’m pleased that the goods were ordered to be forfeited to the Authority and they are now in the process of being de-branded by a charity and re-branded with their logo. Once this has been completed, the clothing will be distributed to low income families or homeless shelters throughout the UK and abroad.

“This was a fantastic investigation to be part of and I thank the NMG for this award, the National Trading Standards e-Crime Team, police, the trade mark holders, colleagues in my team and colleagues in the legal team for their support.”

Graham Mogg, intelligence co-ordinator for the Anti-Counterfeiting Group and chair of the NMG, said:

“The NMG promotes a true partnership approach to reducing the threat to consumers and legitimate business from the sale of counterfeit, pirated and unsafe products. When criminals infiltrate and undermine social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, consumers are put at risk of injury and harm.

“Operation Jasper targets the wholesale suppliers at markets and retail premises, as well as the traders operating on social media. This joint private and public sector approach is reaping rewards and the role played by James and the team at Isle of Wight Trading Standards is integral to our continued success. We congratulate them on the successful outcome of their investigation and I am delighted to be able to visit the Island to present the award on behalf of the NMG.’’

This is the third time that a trading standards officer has won an NMG award. Sharon Penketh won an award in 2015, and Rhys Davies won one in Harrogate this year.