6th Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting & Piracy

February 2011

The global phenomena of counterfeiting and piracy remain a great concern to policymakers worldwide. While an exact quantification of the scope and economic effects at the aggregate level remains challenging, it is recognized that the trade in fake goods today affects virtually all economic sectors that are driven by creativity and innovation, and is prevalent in all economies. While luxury goods producers have been the traditional targets of counterfeiters, today, industries as diverse as entertainment, cosmetics, foodstuffs, electronics, auto parts, and most alarmingly, medicines, are concerned. Counterfeiting and piracy represent direct losses to the individuals and companies who innovate and develop original products, but their impact reverberates throughout the global economy. Widespread availability and consumption of counterfeit and pirated goods undermine trust in a rules-based system, and, depending on the particular circumstances, may translate into lost opportunities for innovation, lost earnings, lost jobs, lost tax revenues and a weakening of state-funded services.

Formulating a policy framework to effectively address counterfeiting and piracy poses substantial challenges. Depending on the priority issues at stake, this may involve legislative, public health, law enforcement, intellectual property (IP), technological and development-oriented considerations. In addition, educating consumers remains crucial, as is the need for working towards effective enforcement infrastructures and techniques. We continue to witness significant efforts by a number of countries to further develop existing frameworks, both at national and at international levels. This includes negotiations on multilateral agreements, for instance in the context of the draft MEDICRIME Convention, negotiated under the auspices of the Council of Europe, or the draft Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Other initiatives focus on the distribution of counterfeit products and protected content over the Internet, and explore, for instance, voluntary cooperation models between the various stakeholders.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible IP system that rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest. WIPO’s work in the field of IP enforcement is guided first by the need for an in-depth understanding of the elements that fuel the trade in illegitimate goods. The Organization takes a broad, crosscutting approach that is more inclusive than the narrower concept of enforcement. It takes into account the interest of broader societal interests, development-oriented concerns and consumer protection and aims at enabling sustainable progress, by working towards an environment that is conducive to fostering respect for IP rights. The focus is on international public and private sector cooperation; on supporting a constructive and balanced international policy dialogue; and on legal and technical assistance to WIPO member states, upon request, to strengthen their capacities for the effective enforcement of IP rights.

Within this strategic direction, WIPO has since 2004 partnered with the World Customs Organization (WCO) and INTERPOL, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC/BASCAP) and the International Trademark Association (INTA) in the organization of the Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy. The Global Congress has become a leading global forum for building cooperation to enhance public awareness – and concerted action – to successfully confront counterfeiting and piracy. It brings together government ministers and policy-makers, business leaders, senior law enforcement officials, judges and lawyers, stakeholders from intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), consumer groups and members of academia.

This year, as sitting Chair of the Global Congress Steering Group, WIPO has taken the lead in organizing the 6th Global Congress in Paris, France on February 2 and 3, 2011. This year’s program, which underscores the link between building respect for IP and sustainable development, is designed to reflect a balanced approach to combating counterfeiting and piracy. This year’s theme is “Building respect for IP: sustainable solutions to a global problem.” As an increasing number of industries are the target of counterfeiting and piracy and as new distribution patterns emerge and against a backdrop of ever-tightening budgets, the search for effective strategies is evermore important. The Global Congress offers a multi-stakeholder platform to consider innovative and effective ways of disrupting and curbing the illicit global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. Overall, the aim of the Congress is to create a better understanding of the elements underlying the trade in illegitimate goods, and to discuss sustainable solutions to stop it. This year’s innovative program is designed to encourage maximum interaction and dialogue among participants. A series of plenary and boardroom dialogue sessions covering a range of new issues offers a fresh look at ways to combat counterfeiting and piracy and build respect for IP. These include:

Plenary Sessions:

  • Building Respect for IP
    Protecting consumer safety – a critical driver to fight counterfeiting -
    highlighting the multiple risks to consumer safety and exploring effective intervention strategies to protect consumers.
  • Responsible destruction – eco-friendly and socially equitable disposal of infringing goods - discussing ways and means of disposing of infringing goods in an environmentally friendly way and in the societal interest.

Boardroom dialogue sessions include:

  • Creating and refining the means for efficient enforcement -
    aims to foster closer public-private sector cooperation to detect and curb the production and distribution of infringing goods.
  • Determining the impact – the importance of measuring the scope and impact of infringement -
    assesses existing approaches and methodologies for determining the impact of counterfeiting and identifies solutions to bridge existing gaps.
  • Competition law and building respect for IP - explores solutions for the pro- competitive use of IP rights.
  • Anti-counterfeiting initiatives in France
  • IP enforcement and sustainable development – perspectives and challenges -
    analyzes the elements fuelling IP infractions in a broader societal context and address the need for balance in IP enforcement regimes to identify solutions that contribute to sustainable development.
  • Addressing counterfeiting and piracy in the virtual world -
    aims to enhance understanding of the scope and depth of counterfeiting and piracy on-line and the tools required to tackle it.
  • Financing effective enforcement – innovative approaches -
    explores options for harnessing collective resources for the most cost-effective solutions.
  • The cost of cleaning up -
    explores acceptable solutions to recover from the infringer the mounting costs associated with storage and destruction of infringing goods.
  • Corporate social responsibility – nurturing respect for IP - explores how partnerships between governments and investors with CSR policies linked to sustainable development can foster more effective enforcement results.
  • Government agreements and initiatives - explores the perspectives of developing and developed countries on the formation and impact of government initiatives to protect IP and combat this illicit trade.
  • The power of education and awareness in building respect for IP -
    explores the public education challenges in communicating the economic and social harms associated with counterfeiting and piracy and will seek to develop new tools through public-private sector collaboration.
  • Securing the supply chain – understanding the customer - considers how to safeguard consumer safety and the integrity of official supply chains which are increasingly infiltrated by infringing goods.

The 6th Global Congress is being co-hosted, under the high patronage of the President of the French Republic, by the French Institut national de la propriété industrielle (INPI).

The WIPO Magazine is intended to help broaden public understanding of intellectual property and of WIPO’s work, and is not an official document of WIPO. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of WIPO concerning the legal status of any country, territory or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. This publication is not intended to reflect the views of the Member States or the WIPO Secretariat. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by WIPO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.