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BW Businessworld

‘Enforcing IPR Can Save Piracy’

Louise Van Greunen, director, World Intellectual Property Organisation, talks to BW Businessworld’s Ashish Sinha about counterfeiting and the need for enforcing IPR.

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Louise Van Greunen, director, World Intellectual Property Organisation, talks about counterfeiting and the need for enforcing IPR.

Q: What are the global challenges in enforcing the IPR?

A: The enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) is crucial for building a sound system of IP protection. Ensuring the effectiveness of enforcement of IPR that is sustainable is a challenge in itself. Therefore, a major challenge is to ensure smooth dialogue and cooperation between various stakeholders. In the globalised world, international cooperation between law enforcement agencies, custom authorities, and judicial authorities is a big challenge. Then trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy is another challenge. The use of 3D-printing in counterfeit goods has brought in additional technical and legal challenges to the fore.

Q: Are there sectors untouched by illicit trade?
A: Almost all industrial sectors are confronted with counterfeiting or piracy. This phenomenon is no more limited to luxury items anymore. It poses a threat to the health and safety of consumers in a big way. The most striking example is the trademark counterfeit medicine. Fake cosmetics and automotive spare parts are some other sectors. In such cases, it is not only the protection of trademark rights, but the safety of consumer which might trigger the application of other laws in addition to IP laws such as the laws on the safety of goods, on the consumer protection, etc.

Q: Why is there a demand for counterfeit products?

A: A lot of elements go into creating the demand for counterfeit products, including the socio-economic circumstances and conditions prevailing in countries. Mostly consumers are not aware that the good he or she are buying is a fake product. The objective of the counterfeiter is to mislead public so that they cannot distinguish between a counterfeit good from a genuine one. This keeps the demand running. We can tackle counterfeiting by the enforcement of IPR.

Q: Is counterfeiting a growing menace for the e-commerce industry?
A: The nexus between IP and digital business is complex. e-commerce is flourishing globally and the IP-based revenues derived from digital channels are taking over the revenues from physical format sales. But the digital environment presents challenges to the IP-intensive industries. WIPO’s member states, through the dialogue in its Advisory Committee on Enforcement, have underscored the necessity to combine repressive measures with preventive, in order to achieve outcomes that strengthen IP compliance in the online environment.

[email protected]; @BW_ashish

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 08-02-2016)