Police have launched a new intellectual property crime unit by arresting two men in Birmingham on suspicion of importing thousands of counterfeit DVD box sets and selling them online as legitimate products.

In the early morning swoops on 13 September, detectives seized DVDs with an estimated sale value of £40,000, with titles including Game of Thrones, CSI and Vampire Diaries. The suspects, aged 29 and 28, were taken to a local police station for questioning.

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has been set up to protect UK industries producing legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content.

The unit is being initially funded by the Intellectual Property Office, with the 19-strong team based at the City of London Police Economic Crime Directorate.

City of London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard said: “Intellectual property crime is already costing our economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year and placing thousands of jobs under threat, and left unchecked and free to feed on new technology could destroy some of our most creative and productive industries.”

Around seven million people a month visit sites offering illegal content in the UK. Globally, it is projected that digitally pirated music, films and software will account for losses of around $80 billion, a figure expected to rise to $240 billion by 2015.