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11 September 2012 - Media release

International conference on intellectual property crime focuses on global partnership response

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Identifying areas for global collective action against intellectual property (IP) crime and counterfeit products is the focus of the 2012 International Law Enforcement IP Crime Conference which opened today.

Bringing together more than 500 delegates representing both the public and private sectors from 58 countries, the three-day conference (11-13 September) is co-hosted by INTERPOL and the Policía Nacional de Panamá, in partnership with Underwriters Laboratories.

With the conference theme ‘East Meets West – Working with the Americas to Combat Counterfeiting’, key issues include the nature and extent of transnational organized intellectual property crime, integrating and enhancing regional and international cooperation, trafficking in illicit goods, public and private partnerships, as well as training, mentoring, capacity building and operations.

Panama’s Minister of Public Security, Jose Raul Mulino, told the conference delegates that the event would support  Panama’s efforts against IP crime which he described as ‘deeply rooted’ at the international level. He said Panama was  an important transit country for international trade, especially with the opening of a new Canal in the next two years. “Panama is not only a transit point since goods are also redistributed worldwide from the country, therefore respecting intellectual property rights is a key element for all stakeholders across the world,” said Minister Mulino.

Describing the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit and illicit products as taking place on ‘an industrial scale’, INTERPOL President Khoo Boon Hui said: “Counterfeiting and piracy are conducted with a complete disregard for the health and safety of consumers. As components of a much larger transnational organized criminal activity which is trafficking in illicit goods, this complex yet diverse situation demands an even more comprehensive global partnership response to firmly focus on the transnational criminals responsible for these activities.”

The President of INTERPOL outlined to delegates how so far in 2012 alone, five INTERPOL-supported international operations in Africa, Central Europe and Central America had led to the seizure of counterfeit, pirated and illicit goods valued at some EUR 155 million and to more than 1,700 arrests. “While these illustrate our outreach and successes this year, they also reveal the wide and diverse geographic spread of the challenges facing us,” added Mr Khoo.

The conference includes plenary sessions, operational workshops, interactive round-tables and specialized sessions to share IP crime investigation expertise. It will also feature one-to-one networking sessions to enable delegates to discuss operational matters with representatives from investigative agencies, and law enforcement representatives will receive product identification training from rights holders.

“The National Police of Panama is committed to working closely with regional and international bodies to identify threats and routes used by organized crime groups for trafficking in illicit goods and to identify the individuals and transnational crime networks behind this crime,” said Julio Molto, Director General of the Policía Nacional de Panamá. “Co-hosting this unique conference will provide Panama and the whole region with a platform against intellectual property crime.”

“Hosting this year’s event in Panama will help bring new perspective to the challenges we face worldwide with counterfeiting and piracy crimes. Panama is vital in the fight against these crimes and is perfectly positioned to support regional and global anti-counterfeiting campaigns” stated Keith Williams, the President and CEO of Underwriters Laboratories. “This is not a fight that we can win on our own and it requires close and ongoing collaboration between public and private sector partners. Indeed, each year this Conference has grown – bringing together more and more agencies, organizations and enforcement experts, who together share in the opportunity to take meaningful action and adapt to the shifting needs and priorities of combating IP crime.”

The role that the private sector and industry play in collective efforts to fight illicit trade and IP crime in partnership with INTERPOL’s 190 member countries is an essential part of the global campaign to disrupt the activities of the criminal groups responsible for the manufacture and distribution of illicit goods worldwide. A focal point for industry support is INTERPOL's Fund for a Safer World which will help the world police body develop a strong global programme against trafficking in illicit goods.

In this respect, the conference heard that external investments into the INTERPOL Fund for a Safer World has led to an expansion of the world police body’s proven IP crime model to address all types of trafficking in illicit goods so as to dismantle the organized criminal groups profiting from these illegal activities. An immediate benefit has been the introduction of a mentoring programme for senior police investigators in all aspects of trafficking in illicit goods to ensure good investigation skills are widely available in member countries. Mentored officers will acquire specialist knowledge and skills during integrated training and operational intervention deployments in their own country and a period of attachment to INTERPOL’s trafficking in illicit goods programme.

This mentoring process was launched at the conference with the attendance of 50 police and customs officers representing every INTERPOL region to maximize benefits derived from collective knowledge and expertise.

Opening address: Mr Khoo Boon Hui, INTERPOL President