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25 September 2018

Combating the global threat of illicit trade

DUBAI - With transnational crime groups producing illicit and dangerous products on an industrial scale, law enforcement officials, security and industry experts are meeting in Dubai to strengthen global partnerships against intellectual property (IP) crime.

The 12th annual International Law Enforcement IP Crime Conference aims to shape effective enforcement strategies through a review of operational case studies, best practices and industry perspectives to address key IP issues related to artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, organized crime, money laundering, and free trade zones.

Middle East

Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, said: "Strengthening the role of police at the level of international cooperation is crucial to enhancing law enforcement effectiveness in the region and beyond, and to preserving cultural, technological, intellectual and scientific achievements."

The two-day (25 and 26 September) event is being held for the first time in the Middle East, gathering over 750 participants from some 100 countries. It is co-organized by Dubai Police, the UAE Ministry of Interior and INTERPOL, in partnership with UL (Underwriters Laboratories), the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition and the Emirates IP Association (EIPA).

Brigadier Dr. Mohammed Al Murr, EIPA Vice President, said that the Association's role in organizing the conference came within the framework of its vision of 'the UAE being a world leader by 2021 in the field of intellectual property protection'.

A global response

With the global trade in fake goods worth some half a trillion US dollars a year, IP crime touches all industry sectors, affecting the global economy and endangering public health.

Abdul Qadoos Abdul Razzaq Al Obaidli, Assistant Commander-in-Chief of Excellence and Leadership with the UAE's Ministry of Interior said: "The conference provides a vital international platform for exchanging ideas and views for law enforcement agencies worldwide to combat intellectual property violations'.

Dismantling the organized crime networks behind this illicit activity therefore requires a unified global response across all sectors.

"As transnational IP crime groups evolve and continue bringing dangerous counterfeit products to markets, law enforcement and brand owners must evolve tactics to stem the flow of counterfeit products," UL President and Chief Executive Officer Keith Williams said.

IACC President Bob Barchiesi said: "IP protection allows innovation to continue and flourish. By leveraging the expertise of partners across different industries and disciplines, we can build the strongest defense against counterfeiting and piracy worldwide."

Enforcement operations

Between March and May this year, INTERPOL coordinated regional operations across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America to shut down factories and supply chains connected to counterfeit goods, identify illicit trade routes, and dismantle organized crime networks.

With 645 suspects identified or arrested, and more than 1,300 investigative inquiries launched, 7.2 million counterfeit and illicit items were seized, including pharmaceuticals, vehicle parts, clothing and agrochemicals.

"Law enforcement action in the field is crucial in order to remove illicit products from circulation and to dismantle the networks behind these crimes," said INTERPOL's Executive Director of Police Services, Tim Morris.

Building frontline capabilities

In partnership with UL, INTERPOL has developed a global online training platform, the International Intellectual Property Crime Investigators College (IIPCIC) which has more than 16,000 users from over 150 countries.

The interactive training platform has become the leading educational tool for law enforcement and rights-holders worldwide, ensuring frontline officers have access to the necessary information and training.

"Technology is changing the nature of all crimes, including illicit trafficking. We must make technology our ally in the fight against transnational crime," added Mr Morris.

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