The rising trade in pirateDVDs and other fake goods is to be tackled by an initiative launched by the UKgovernment today which brings together brand owners, the police, TradingStandards and customs in a new unified approach.

Industry Minister Jacqui Smithunveiled the "intellectual property crime strategy" - developed by the PatentOffice - as the various enforcement agencies were "competing for politicalspace" and undermining each other's efforts.

"Counterfeiting is a globalbusiness run by highly-organised criminals," said Bryan Lewin of TradingStandards. "To tackle crime at this level we must adopt an equally organisedand co-ordinated approach."

Only last month The IndustryTrust for Intellectual Property Awareness released figures showing seizures ofpirate DVDs had doubled in the first half of 2004 - itself coming on top of afour-fold rise announced at the start of the year. Rights owners estimate thatlast year alone counterfeiting and piracy cost the UK economy over £10bn and4,000 jobs across all manufacturing sectors.

"Intellectual property crimeis not victimless," said Smith. "That is why we are working together withindustry and law enforcement agencies to clamp down on this illegal trade."

As well as increasing thesharing of intelligence between the enforcement agencies, the initiative alsoaims to improve the training for those working on the front line of piracydetection.