BRUSSELS - Senior officials from government, law enforcement and business, meeting at the First Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting, have called for concrete action in curbing such crime, now estimated to be worth EUR 500 billion annually or more than seven per cent of global trade.
More than 300 delegates attended the conference co-sponsored by the World Customs Organization and INTERPOL, with the support of the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The Congress recommended action in four main areas:
- substantially increased co-operation and communication among all concerned parties
- better enforcement and stiffer penalties to deter counterfeiting
- extended training and resources for law enforcement
- increased public awareness of the full impact and costs of counterfeiting
The Congress also called for the establishment of a Steering Committee with representation from the key public and private stakeholders to ensure that its recommendations and ideas are fully implemented.
'The work already undertaken by the INTERPOL Intellectual Property Crime. Action Group, which brings together private and public sector partners, has been endorsed by the Congress as a vital tool in combating counterfeiting, and one which must now be fully implemented,' INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said.
'This Congress demonstrates to governments and the public that counterfeiting presents a growing global crime problem which must be fought in a co-ordinated manner.'
WCO Secretary General Michel Danet said: 'Stemming the flow of counterfeit goods is one of the World Customs Organization's priorities, but this will require the co-operation and support of all stakeholders.'
'We are currently reviewing 'model legislation' on border measures to protect intellectual property rights and we are delighted that the Congress has recommended supporting this initiative. It is equally important that the Congress supported the strategies, standards and tools aimed at combating counterfeiting identified by the WCO through its Intellectual Property Rights Strategic Group and our Supply Chain Security Initiative.'
The Global Business Leaders Alliance Against Counterfeiting (GBLAAC), a group of multinational companies, was the primary business partner of the Congress.
Speaking on behalf of GBLAAC, executives from Procter & Gamble, BAT, Unilever and other major companies pointed out that counterfeiting has now become a massive, sophisticated global business impacting on virtually every product category, from soaps, shampoos, razors, batteries, alcoholic beverages and automobile parts, to medicines and health care products.
'This is a serious issue for our companies not just because it impacts sales but more importantly because it affects consumer trust in our brands and companies,' said Anthony Simon, Marketing President of Unilever Bestfoods. 'Industry must build greater awareness of the scope of counterfeiting and we need to work with the public sector to develop better data to convince government leaders and consumers of the enormous impact it has.'
A second Congress will be held in 2005 to measure the progress made and to identify what additional actions are required.
For more information please contact Catherine Ogier at WCO on +32 (0)2 209 94 52 firstname.lastname@example.org or INTERPOL at email@example.com.
More information about the Congress is available on http://www.anti-counterfeitcongress.org/