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19 October 2010 - Media release

INTERPOL and Hong Kong Customs join forces to improve regional police and customs anti-counterfeiting co-operation

HONG KONG, China – Greater emphasis on the leadership role of police and customs and the benefits of working collaboratively is the focus of the 2010 International Law Enforcement Intellectual Property (IP) Crime Conference which opened today in Hong Kong.

The conference is the first to be held in Asia and brings together some 500 law enforcement specialist IP crime investigators, prosecutors and private sector investigators from 48 countries.  Co-hosted by INTERPOL and Hong Kong Customs in partnership with Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), the three-day event (October 19-21) concentrates on collective efforts to work together to break organized crime.  It will include a series of operational workshops to enable subject matter experts to discuss how all those affected by counterfeiting and piracy can better work together to break up the organized criminal gangs which manufacture and distribute fake goods on a regional and increasingly global scale.

The Under Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, highlighted at the opening ceremony that co-operation among jurisdictions and timely intelligence exchange are pivotal to the fight against transnational organized IP crime.  “To stay ahead of such challenges, we need to help each other to prevent IP criminals from profiteering between regions.  More precisely, we need cross-sector co-operation amongst law enforcement agencies, IP crime affected industries, rights holders and relevant stakeholders to share efforts, intelligence and resources to counter transnational organized IP crimes effectively,” said Mr So.

“Organized criminals play a central and omnipresent role in every aspect of transnational IP crime,” said INTERPOL President Khoo Boon Hui.  Mr. Khoo reported that with 145 (77 per cent) of INTERPOL’s 188 member countries now affected by organized IP crime,  48 per cent of all IP crime cases were transnational, with 12 per cent of cases linked to other areas of organized crime. “The need for police and customs to work together to combat this dangerous criminality which increasingly impacts on the health and safety of consumers has never been more important.  This collaboration has already proved to be a winning formula in South America and will work for us in other regions.”

Hong Kong Customs Commissioner Richard Yuen confirmed that organised IP criminals are using increasingly sophisticated manufacturing and distribution networks to move their pirated goods around through physical boundaries like ports and airports or virtual boundaries on the Internet. “To protect society against the harm of counterfeit goods and support economic growth through promotion of innovation and creativity, IPR enforcement agencies must work together within and outside the national boundaries, so that we can effectively counteract and combat the international IPR criminal syndicates,” said Commissioner Yuen.

“There are no simple answers to the complex problem of organised IP crime, but solutions can be developed through co-operation and partnership,” said Charlie Abounader, President Product Safety, Underwriters Laboratories.  “This unique operational forum enables a wealth of information, experience and expertise – from both the public and private sectors – to be shared and channelled into a common goal, which is to defeat transnational IP crime”.

Notable participants from Asia, including Mainland China, were joined by others from Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas, including the Attorney General of the United States, Mr Eric H. Holder, who delivered a key note address. 

Key features of the conference will include hands-on and interactive training provided by Hong Kong Customs in a simulated Internet crime scene, as well as access to the online International IP Crime Investigators College, an INTERPOL driven initiative in partnership with UL University delivering leading edge training to equip investigators with the necessary skills to effectively combat current and emerging threats from IP crime.