Tuesday 19, December 2017 by Jessica Combes

Battle against counterfeit crimes discussed at annual IP Conference


Intellectual Property (IP) protection experts gathered in Dubai to discuss the global epidemic of counterfeit crime, with a particular focus on the challenges caused by new technology.

Global independent safety science company, UL, highlighted the significance of international cooperation in the battle against the word-wide issue at the seventh Regional IP Crime Conference in Middle East and North Africa held earlier this month.

Counterfeit products are prevalent in the virtual world, available through stand-alone websites, social media networks and e-commerce platforms. With the internet providing unparalleled opportunities for legitimate businesses to grow and reach consumers all over the world, it also increased the counterfeiters’ ability to expand their operations while remaining anonymous.

This has made combating counterfeiting and piracy a global challenge for both brand owners and law enforcement officials, with efforts aimed at taking down rogue websites and pursuing the individuals behind them.

A key panel discussion at the event tackled the subject of ‘new technology and the challenges of intellectual property protection’, which featured the participation of Erik L Madsen, Senior Investigations Manager, EMEA.

One of the key challenges faced by the industry is the existence of anonymity. The high level of sophistication from the counterfeiter makes it hard to identify the ‘mastermind’ behind the crime. Other taxing factors include identifying existing and relevant jurisdictions, legislation and case law.

As a solution to these issues, Madsen proposed, “An integrated approach, which is both priority-focused and intelligence-led, is the way to go for successful anti-counterfeit actions. Additionally, operational partnerships with law enforcement are key. We also need a comprehensive education programme which helps build capacity within public and private sector organisations to combat IP crime. A clear example for a successful programme is the IIPCIC: International IP Crime Investigators College, created in partnership with Interpol.”

Counterfeiting is a major challenge for every industry, from household appliances, electrical products, pharmaceuticals, fire protection, and suppressant devices. Counterfeiters have claimed around a third of the entire global market–worth an estimated $200 billion–and are implicated in the deaths of up to one million people each year due to toxic or ineffective drugs. According to recent surveys, the fight against online infringement is likely to dominate the efforts in combatting piracy in 2018.

In a 2017 study by Europol, IP crimes were calculated to be worth up to $461 billion annually worldwide, tainting nearly all types of products and geographical areas. The impact of such criminality leads to knock-on effects on citizens, businesses and governments, and limits the opportunity to reinvest in research, development and employment, making it a serious threat to future growth.

The study also stated that digitalisation of trading and transport systems is expected to bring new opportunities for criminals. In all aspects of IP crime enforcement, there is an identified and ongoing need for enhanced cooperation and education amongst all stakeholders and intermediaries.

“As counterfeiting has become more global, investigations have become more complex and time-consuming. In 2018, brand owners around the world are expected to expand their anti-counterfeiting activities to cover more countries and regions, including Middle East and North Africa. To overcome this crime, companies need to unify their anti-counterfeiting activities by strengthening the dialogue between service providers, authorities and customers. Internet monitoring and enforcement play a leading role in this process,” said Hamid Syed, UL, Vice President and GM.

Authorities in the region have taken a strict and intelligent approach to this worldwide issue to protect its citizens against the dangers of fake goods. UL plays a significant role in improving intellectual property protection at local and regional levels. The safety science company hosts workshops across the Middle East and North Africa to create awareness of these crimes and to initiate a dialogue on building effective partnerships designed to protect consumers and stem the flow of dangerous products.

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