Popular brands have called for stricter policing of the internet, as they fear fraud will soar during the first "digital recession".
Marks & Clerk, an intellectual property group, will today reveal that 80 per cent of businesses surveyed believe their brands are at a "much greater risk" of counterfeiting than in previous recessions because of the rise of the internet.
Pam Withers, partner at Marks & Clerk, said: "This is the first recession in the digital era and businesses are anxious about the consequences." The survey found that 76 per cent of firms, who were not named, felt the law had not kept up with the rise of the internet in terms of protecting their intellectual property since the recession of the early 1990s.
Almost two thirds called for a tough cybercrime authority to take on offenders copying popular brand names. Companies including the jeweller Tiffany's and the haircare company L'Oreal have criticised the role of the internet in the sale of counterfeit goods.
Businesses are also worried about the role that search engines play in selling alleged counterfeit goods, with 59 per cent believing they need to engage the engines to beat crime, said Marks & Clerk. LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, is in a legal battle with Google over it selling keywords to the highest bidders, whom it believes could include counterfeiters.