Thursday, February 23, 2006

Discussions at WIPO PCDA on US proposal related to counterfeiting, piracy and enforcement

Thursday, 23 February 2006
Thiru Balasubramaniam

Yesterday the United States of America presented its proposal on the elaboration of a WIPO Partnership Program. Point six of the US proposal dealt with the effect of counterfeiting and piracy on economic development.

The US proposal called for the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE) to

discuss and analyze the relationship between the rates of counterfeiting and piracy of intellectual property and technology transfer, foreign direct investment and economic growth.

The US delegate asserted that there was growing evidence that weak IP regimes were a deterrent to inward investment, FDI and technology transfer. The US proposal called for the WIPO Secretariat to "assist in the collection of data on piracy rates".

Japan and Austria (on behalf of the EU) made rather anodyne remarks supporting studying the effect of counterfeiting and piracy on economic development.

Brazil responded point by point to the US proposal. As the hour was drawing late, Brazil continued its response this morning. Brazil noted the American delegate's mention of "endemic" piracy. The Brazilian delegate noted that piracy was a global problem and not just a problem endemic to developing countries. he noted that WIPO did not have the mandate to address corrupt practices of government or of enforcing IP; the Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE) was just an advisory body.

Brazil responded to Romania's intervention on Brazil creating a national committee to combat piracy in 2003 and thanked Romania for recognition that Brazil had credentials for enforcement.

At this point the Romanian Ambassador Doru Romulus Costea raised his placard in the air and made an intervention. He noted that

[w]hat Romania does in respect of enforcement is not in question here. Otherwise if we were to talk about what each and every country does, we would have produced a different statement and we would be here all day.

The Brazilian delegate responded

[w]e have credentials to raise the adequacy of the IP to development. We don't feel counterfeiting and piracy belong to this. However, another delegation brought up Brazil's national statements on piracy, so I feel obliged to resume my intervention. And I feel it is incumbent on me to respond on Brazil's efforts to combat piracy. As the Romanian delegate rightly, pointed out we do believe the ACE is an important body provided it functions within it's terms of reference. The fact that we have a development agenda does NOT mean we favor counterfeiting and piracy. I must say that it is strange to hear Romania cite Brazil's efforts on enforcement in support of his point about enforcement. One would normally expect that one would cite the experience of one's own country. Since the Romanian delegate cares so much about enforcement, perhaps the delegate could submit his candidacy for the ACE.