IP taskforce steps up to the plate

After nearly three years of virtual silence, a government taskforce is set to shake up the IP world in Indonesia with a promising programme to change the country's reputation of being soft on intellectual property.
The taskforce was set up in 2006 following trade negotiations with the United States. It was given the task of coming up with a national strategy for tackling rampant IP infringement.
Despite the best efforts of Andy Sommeng, the director general of IP rights of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, there has been little progress to date, although individual members of the taskforce - particularly the Intellectual Property Office and the police - have been very active with their own programme.
However, this is set to change. The taskforce’s strategic direction was the key item on the agenda of a week-long conference held in Bali in December 2009. The result is an ambitious, yet realistic, enforcement programme that will see several government agencies working together on IP issues.
High on the taskforce’s list is improving cooperation between the various government agencies that are responsible for enforcing IP rights - particularly between the police, Customs and the Public Prosecutor's Office. At present, there is very little coordination or information sharing between these three agencies.
Cooperation director Ansori Sinungan has been given the responsibility of coordinating the agencies that make up the taskforce. Top on his list of priorities is coming up with a system for the police, the Public Prosecutor's Office and Customs to share information about IP counterfeiting cases. Last year, the Jakarta police investigated over 150 IP counterfeiting cases, but only a handful resulted in convictions. A database for tracking IP counterfeiting cases through the legal system would change this.
Apart from significantly increasing the number of criminal convictions, the taskforce also wishes to see much sterner sentences handed out by the courts. However, the courts will require some help in this respect, in the form of sentencing guidelines.
The biggest challenge for the taskforce is bringing all government agencies up to the same level as the police. Historically, tackling counterfeiting has been the sole responsibility of the police. In its capacity as the chief guardian of intellectual property, the police has set up special teams to handle IP matters, which regularly receive training and support from IP owners, including the International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group and the Indonesian Anti-counterfeiting Society.
However, to be effective, the police needs the support of the Public Prosecutor's Office, which is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases, and Customs, which is responsible for stopping counterfeit products from entering Indonesia. Both are in need of special training on how to handle IP cases.
With a general strategy in place, the taskforce must now set out the programmes required to achieve these objectives. The taskforce will meet in February 2010 for this purpose.
Brett McGuire, Rouse, Jakarta

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