PIPCU and the IACC, using the coalition’s RogueBlock programme, will work together to take down websites selling counterfeits.
RogueBlock targets online counterfeiters by working with credit card companies and payment processors to terminate merchant accounts, effectively stopping their source of income.
The programme has terminated more than 5,300 individual merchant accounts, stopping profits being made from an estimated 200,000 infringing websites.
The collaboration with PIPCU will further expand RogueBlock’s impact by allowing the police unit to go after websites themselves, as part of Operation Ashiko.
Operation Ashiko aims to fight online trade in counterfeit goods in the UK and has suspended more than 20,000 websites since its creation.
PIPCU will now consider each website submission from RogueBlock that falls within its jurisdiction.
Bob Barchiesi, president of the IACC, said: “The agreement sends a clear message to counterfeiters that their illegal and deceitful actions will not be tolerated in London and beyond.”
“It represents exactly the kind of multifaceted approach that the modern battlefield of counterfeiting requires. With the help of PIPCU, we can fight counterfeiters through their wallets and their websites.”
Detective Chief Inspector Pete Ratcliffe, head of PIPCU, said: “International partnerships are the key to tackling the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and by working with the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition we aim to make the internet a hostile place for criminals to sell and distribute fake goods.”
Digital rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has reacted negatively to RogueBlock.
The EFF said that payment service providers have often gone “beyond the law to isolate and effectively censor websites that infringe sometimes arbitrary standards”.
“This has resulted in websites that provide information on sexuality, pharmaceuticals, or whistleblowing, suddenly finding themselves cut off from their sources of funding, and left with no clear recourse.”
Programmes such as RogueBlock, while making enforcement easier for rights holders, “substantially increases the potential for enforcement overreach and abuse”.
“The websites flagged by RogueBlock are based on private reporting by trademark, patent, and copyright holders.”
The EFF was positive about PIPCU’s involvement, which would allow for “public accountability”.