On the 21st September 2017 Back Four and the Premier League once again brought together outstanding speakers and delegates from across the intellectual property and football industries at the fourth annual Football Against Fakes conference.
Since 2014 we have partnered with the Premier League to create a showcase event which leads the industry in creating awareness about the problems football clubs face in tackling counterfeiting. For the 2017 event we were especially thrilled to be able to provide a forum for our enforcement colleagues in the Midlands and the North (and I say especially because it meant that at least two of us didn’t have to travel too far!) at the home of Manchester City FC, the Etihad Stadium.
While previous Football Against Fakes events have been held in different stadia in London, this year’s conference saw an influx of over 100 enforcement officials from Trading Standards, HMRC and the Police forces across the Midlands and the North meet with representatives from Premier League football clubs, the FA, kit manufacturers and other trusted partners to discuss the current state of the industry. In addition to another program of interesting presentations, which ranged from the best practices of different Trading Standards authorities to the brand protection work undertaken by Manchester City themselves, there were also talks about the changing relationship with China and a summary of a recent Back Four investigation into the ease of procuring counterfeit replica shirts from abroad.
Football Against Fakes is not simply a presentation platform, however, and we created it with a focus on both encouraging a space where people could speak to one another, but also to do a bit of listening ourselves.
As with previous years, plenty of time was given over to allowing enforcement delegates to wander round and meet with the exhibitors from the football clubs and kit manufacturers, who were all on hand to speak about their trade marks, their genuine products and what particular issues they may be facing in their businesses. We’re proud of these meetings and these moments because they allow colleagues who may never have even met before to meet face to face and to discuss previous, ongoing and future work together. From these encounters new pieces of information are shared, new relationships are formed and new possible avenues of combating fakes in football are opened up.
In 2015 our feedback told us that there was a need for more focus on positivity so in 2016 we created the Enforcement Agency of the Year Award, which was deservedly won this year by Hartlepool Trading Standards for their work on countering the always present problem of illegal streaming devices. In 2016, however, the feedback also taught us that attendees desired more interaction beyond both the time spent visiting exhibitors and the sessions watching the platform presentations. As a direct result, for the most recent event we instituted an extremely popular panel discussion, where club representatives from Liverpool FC, West Ham United and Brighton and Hove Albion all came together on stage to discuss some of the challenges of brand protection in the football world. It proved to be a lively session, with questions from the audience allowing the members of the panel to open up even further about their work.
We’re always keen to know what people want from this event though and if you attended then we’d love to get your feedback on what you think we could do better. If you didn’t attend then please tell us what you’d like to see that would make you attend and we’ll do our best to make it even more of a can’t miss event!