On 17th November 2020, the Intellectual Property (IP) Crime Unit within the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (GNBCI) took charge of an operation involving personnel from within GNBCI and other Bureaus within Organised & Serious Crime, including the Garda National Immigration Bureau, the Garda Dog Unit and personnel attached to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).

The operation assigned codename Bannister, was established for the purpose of targeting criminal activity associated with the suspected sale of counterfeit electronic products of inferior quality.

The Intellectual Property (IP) Crime Unit within the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (GNBCI) has engaged with other relevant stakeholders in planning the above-mentioned activity associated with Operation Bannister.

  • REACT – An organisation that brings together some 280 rights owners from across the world in the fight against the illegal trade in counterfeit goods;
  • Underwriters Laboratory (UL) – A global safety science company thattest the latest products and technologies for safety before they aremarketed around the world and
  • Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), which holds a dual mandate to enforce competition and consumer protection.

Yesterday, 17th November 2020, in the course of Operation Bannister, two premises were searched, including the place of residence of a suspect located in Dublin 3 and a business premises located in a Business Park, situated at Oak Close, Dublin, 12.

In the course of the above-mentioned business premises, a significant quantity of counterfeit products, including Ear Phones, USB Plugs, Phone Chargers and Game Console Controllers along with a vast amount of branded packaging was seized. Hard drives, other electronic devices including mobile phones were also seized, along relevant documentation.

In the region of 15,000 items, believed to be counterfeit products were seized in the course of Operation Bannister, along with about 10,000 items of packaging bearing particular brand names.

The estimated value of the products seized is yet to be established, however, it is estimated to have a potential street sale value of in the region of €300,000.

Investigations are continuing, in the above-mentioned regard, and have involved the taking of statements from relevant potential witnesses. It is anticipated that following a comprehensive assessment of property seized suspects will be arrested. There is also potential for the undertaking of additional searches of relevant premises.

Investigating officers understand that the 15,000 items of counterfeit property that were seized in the course of Operation Bannister,  includes the largest quantity of counterfeit property purporting to be a particular brand seized worldwide this year.

Responsibility for investigating criminality associated with intellectual property (IP) rights infringement, at a national level, is assigned to the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (GNBCI), within Organised & Serious Crime (OSC).

Relevant investigations are undertaken by personnel assigned to a particular unit within GNBCI.

The portfolio relating to investigations associated with infringement of intellectual property rights (IP) covers a wide range of criminal activity, including that relating to counterfeit food, illicit streaming devices and online selling of particular products.

There is a significant international dimension to intellectual property rights (IP) infringement related investigations.   In this regard, the Garda Síochána, through GNBCI, engages with Europol, for the purpose of ensuring appropriate involvement on the part of Ireland, in relevant investigations that have a Europe-wide dimension.

Recently, Operation Aphrodite, a Europe-wide operation, was coordinated through Europol.  Ireland, through the Garda Síochána, and GNBCI in particular and Italy, through the Italian Finance Corps (Guardia di Finanza) led out in the undertaking by over twenty (20) European countries of operational activity associated with Operation Aphrodite, targeting intellectual property (IP) rights infringement.

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