Position of high commissioner to combat counterfeiting abolished

As part of its package of cost-cutting measures, the Italian government has abolished the position of high commissioner to combat counterfeiting and piracy. 
The position of high commissioner was created at the end of 2005 by Law 80/2005 and Law 8/2006 (for further details please see "Fighting counterfeiters in Italy - a step in the right direction"). The position was created as an instrument to:
  • foster the integration and cooperation of the various public authorities engaged in the fight against counterfeiting; and
  • promote the involvement of the private sector.
Under the law, the principal tasks of the high commissioner were to: 
  • coordinate the actions of the public authorities engaged in the fight against counterfeiting and create a framework of collaboration;
  • monitor counterfeiting and piracy activities in the country and review the performances of the public institutions;
  • elaborate a national strategy and put forward proposals to reform the legislation; and
  • assist companies in their fight against counterfeiting. 
The coordination of the public authorities was a fundamental task, as there are 17 public bodies with jurisdiction over the fight against counterfeiting. In addition, these 17 institutions are independent and have different competences. The role of the high commissioner was to coordinate the actions of these institutions and find common objectives.
The decision to abolish the position of high commissioner is expected to save €1.5 million a year. However, such decision is surprising in light of the social and economic costs of counterfeiting and piracy in Italy. IP rights owners, designers and entrepreneurs have signed a petition addressed to the Italian government against the abolition of the position of high commissioner.
The creation of the position was considered to be an innovative step from a national and international perspective. Giovanni Kessler, high commissioner since September 2006, described his mission as a “cultural battle” against counterfeiting and piracy. Arguably, Italy has now lost one battle against counterfeiting due to its own actions.
Margherita Bariè and Pietro Pouchè, Carnelutti Studio Legale Associato, Milan

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