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Dire economic, potentially lethal, impact of counterfeiting stressed at UN meeting

Dire economic, potentially lethal, impact of counterfeiting stressed at UN meeting

Illicit trade in counterfeit goods and piracy of intellectual property not only cost global economies more than $1 trillion each year and put more than two million jobs at risk but threaten the lives, health and safety of consumers worldwide, a United Nations-backed meeting was told today.

Over 800 delegates from intergovernmental organizations, governments, enforcement agencies and business from more than 100 countries convened in Paris to address the problem at the Sixth Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy, hosted by France’s Industrial Property Office (INPI) and chaired by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The two-day meeting, co-organized by INPI, WIPO, the international police agency INTERPOL, and the World Customs Organization (WCO) in cooperation with the global business community represented by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), will discuss a full spectrum of issues ranging from pirated patents to potentially lethal fake medicines.

“New research to be reported at the Congress will show that the total impact of this illicit trade in fakes is staggering, with more than $1 trillion in annual losses to global economies, governments and consumers and potentially more than two million jobs at risk,” ICC Secretary General Jean-Guy Carrier said, calling on all stakeholders to find new and creative solutions.

“Counterfeiting and piracy continue to generate massive economic and employment dislocations at a time when governments are most hard pressed to maintain economic stability and create jobs,” he stressed.

Highlighting the recent Operation Jupiter during which counterfeit goods worth more than $200 million were seized and nearly 1,000 people arrested, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble cited the benefits of combining public-private sector expertise.

“INTERPOL has steadily increased its efforts and resource commitment to combat counterfeiting and piracy producing tangible results worldwide, not least in protecting the public from potentially lethal fakes and counterfeits,” he said.

Opening the meeting, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said the Congress represents an outstanding opportunity for the public and private sector to come together and provide international leadership.

“Under the theme of ‘Building Respect for Intellectual Property,’ this Congress addresses the overlapping social, economic and political dimensions of counterfeiting and piracy, and the need for targeted, integrated responses from a variety of actors,” he added.

INPI Director General Yves Lapierre noted the devastating effects of the scourge both on the health and safety of consumers as well as the economy, while INTA President Gerhard Bauer said that in today’s interconnected world, these risks are no longer isolated to one country, region, demographic or economic class.

“This is why the Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy is so important,” said Mr. Bauer.

“It allows committed governments and organizations from all over the world to strengthen their coordinated efforts to combat counterfeiting, and to further educate the public on the economic, social and health risks posed by these crimes.”

Overall, the Congress will seek to create a better understanding of the elements underlying the trade in illegitimate goods, and discuss sustainable solutions to end it.