Global Congress calls on Government leaders to engage in battle against counterfeiting and piracy

5 February 2008

DUBAI - Top government officials, business leaders and senior law enforcement authorities today urged national and international political leaders to engage in the battle against counterfeiting and piracy. The call for increased action came at the close of the Fourth Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy held in Dubai from 3-5 February 2008.

The international event, hosted by Dubai Customs and the World Customs Organization (WCO) brought together more than 1,200 delegates from 90 countries and was organized to enable participants to identify actions and solutions to the growing problem of product counterfeiting and piracy. Along with the WCO, the Congress was convened by the International Criminal Police Organization - INTERPOL and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) with the cooperation of the world’s business community, represented by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) through its Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiative, the International Trademark Association (INTA) and the International Security Management Association (ISMA). It is the first Congress held away from the European headquarters of WCO, INTERPOL and WIPO.

More than 50 speakers from 25 countries delivered proposals for more effectively combating counterfeiting and piracy around the general themes of: enhanced cooperation and coordination; improved legislation and enforcement; the need to increase public and political awareness of counterfeiting and piracy activities and their associated economic and social harm; the threat to human health and safety; the need to develop required legislation and appropriate enforcement measures to deter and punish traffickers of counterfeit and pirated goods in free trade zones and transhipment countries; and the urgent need for concrete and practical solutions to address the sale of counterfeit and pirated products over the Internet. These themes will be developed into a series of key recommendations for specific actions to be released as the Dubai Declaration at the end of February 2008.

Commenting on the outcome of the Congress, the Director General of Dubai Customs, Ahmed Butti Ahmed said that the Congress had been a great success and represented a platform from which all concerned stakeholders could work to achieve security for all. He underlined the importance of high-level political support in ensuring that progress was made in the battle against counterfeiting and piracy.

Michel Danet, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization and lead co-organizer of this year’s event, applauded the successful conclusion of the Congress and highlighted the urgency of dealing with counterfeiting and piracy around the world. He said that strong political will and commitment such as that demonstrated by the authorities of Dubai was essential. He spoke of the need for global legislation to fight the scourge of counterfeiting and piracy to enable effective implementation of these laws by police, customs and judicial authorities. Mr. Danet heralded the partnership that had been established with the private sector in the context of the first Global Congress which, he said, gave an impetus to the debate. The private sector was motivated not only by their desire to protect their intellectual property rights, but to safeguard the well-being of consumers, he said.

John Newton, manager of INTERPOL’s Intellectual Property crime project said that counterfeiting and piracy had infiltrated every market. He said that the industrial scale of this illicit trade was clear evidence of the involvement of organized crime, which was a source of great concern for all. He added that significant results had already been achieved in regional multi-agency operations which would provide a platform for further action around the world.

Michael Keplinger, Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), underlined the importance of the Congress as a means of raising political and public awareness of the scale of the problems of counterfeiting and piracy. He said that the substantive discussions which had taken place would be the basis of solid and sound recommendations around which it would be possible to mobilize broad-based support for the future work of the Congress. He said that WIPO would continue its efforts to support the development of an effective international legal framework to safeguard the rights of intellectual property owners. He added that WIPO was committed to continuing its capacity-building initiatives and training programs to ensure that countries around the world were better able to tackle this escalating problem.

David Benjamin, Senior Vice President Anti-Piracy for the Universal Music Group, called for the engagement of all senior politicians in the battle against counterfeiting and piracy. He said that counterfeiting and piracy affected all sectors of the economy where creativity, invention and innovation were important. He said that more and more of the gross domestic product (GDP) of all countries was based on intellectual property. He called for quick action to deal with this widespread problem which was damaging all economic sectors. “People are dying, creative communities are being decimated and our cultural heritage is being strip-mined,” he said.

Richard Heath, President-Elect of the International Trademark Association (INTA) and Vice President of Unilever PLC, urged the maintenance of the public-private partnership that characterized the Congress. He spoke of the need to raise awareness of the problems of counterfeiting and piracy at the most senior levels both within business and government circles. He said that it was necessary to further raise awareness of the problem and to develop evolving legal frameworks to effectively meet the challenges. He spoke of the widespread economic and social damage resulting from the illicit trade in fake products and underlined the need for punishments to fit the crime.