Global initiatives to combat counterfeiting and piracy launched
The Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP), an initiative of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), has unveiled new strategies to combat counterfeiting and piracy. In addition, INTERPOL has launched a Database on International Intellectual Property Crime with information about transnational and organized IP crimes.
Global counterfeiting and piracy is rising dramatically, affecting multiple industries across the globe, and resulting in dangerous and defective products in the marketplace and the loss of billions of dollars each year.
At the New York BASCAP meeting on March 3 2008, the chief executive officers of some of the world's largest multinational corporations met with representatives from the World Customs Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Office of the US Trade Representative to urge more radical measures in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy.
The business leaders pledged their support to the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and stressed the need to establish a framework agreement for this initiative (which was started in October 2007 by the United States, the European Union, Japan, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and other countries). The ACTA aims to fill in gaps that are not currently addressed by multilateral agreements (eg, stronger enforcement measures, better international cooperation and stronger legal frameworks for IP protection).
The ICC, together with the International Trademark Association, also presented an outline setting out recommendations for a more stringent global international IP regime to be reflected in the ACTA. Other strategies promoted at the meeting included:
- more zealous national advocacy for IP rights in individual countries;
- stricter customs control and monitoring of counterfeit goods; and
- the launch by BASCAP members of a worldwide consumer awareness and education campaign alerting consumers to the dangers of counterfeit and pirated goods.
In addition, in February 2008 INTERPOL, the world's largest international police organization, launched its Database on International Intellectual Property Crime. Since transnational organized IP crime operates in multiple countries and often across multiple industries, such industries may not be aware of these connections or otherwise consider cooperating in enforcement. The database seeks to turn this situation from an advantage for criminals to a tool for the industry.
The database is the result of a partnership with the US Chamber of Commerce and will maintain reliable data on organized IP crime. Private industry and industry groups may submit information concerning IP crime for entry in the database. INTERPOL will analyze the data to:
- produce general reports on IP crime;
- facilitate IP crime investigations; and
- identify possible links between IP crimes occurring across multiple industries.
When INTERPOL identifies links, it will inform the participating industries and invite them to coordinate enforcement against transnational organized criminals.
In order to facilitate and standardize the gathering of appropriate IP crime information, INTERPOL has developed the Recommended Minimum Global Standard for the Collection of Information on Counterfeiting and Piracy by the Private Sector. INTERPOL will give priority to data that complies with the standard.
It is hoped that these initiatives, together with others, will raise public awareness of the dangers and economic costs of global counterfeiting and provide more effective mechanisms to stem the rising tide.
Dennis S Prahl, Ladas & Parry LLP, New York, with the assistance of Katarina Radonjic
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