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ASEAN officials talk IP rights enforcement in the online environment

An ARISE+ IPR regional workshop on the enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights for enforcement officials, investigators, and prosecutors from across the ASEAN region concluded in Manila, the Philippines, today. Discussions covered IP rights protection and enforcement in the digital age, online business models infringing IP rights, best practices on investigative techniques and intelligence gathering, as well as challenges and measures to combat infringement, particularly in the online environment. 

Presenting at the workshop, IP Enforcement Expert Erling Vestergaard, European Observatory on Infringements of IP Rights, highlighted a number of EU initiatives that address the trade in counterfeit goods online. “Strong IP enforcement legislation in the EU provides police and customs agencies with the powers they need to successfully intercept counterfeit goods,” he noted to attendees.

Opening proceedings, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) Director General Josephine Santiago noted that cooperation with right holders has been crucial to successful enforcement efforts in the country. P23.6 billion worth of pirated and counterfeit goods were seized in the Philippines in 2018, an increase of 188% on the previous year.

A number of initiatives and measures at the national level, including those from internet service provider (ISPs), were shared at the workshop. Representatives from Thailand provided information on the i-Spider Net application, which helps right holders to search for copyright-infringing works online. Globe Telecom explained how they had been coordinating with public authorities to combat online piracy, as well as educating consumers in the use of legal content.

The trade in counterfeit products diverts revenue from legitimate businesses, depletes innovation and development, and underpins organised crime networks. In addition, counterfeits are generally of low quality and are potentially harmful to consumers. A wide range of products are affected, including footwear, clothing, electrical machinery, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and toys.

A report released this year by the  European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that counterfeit and pirated goods represented up to 3.3% of world trade in 2016, or as much as EUR 460 billion. This share has grown significantly, from up to 2.5% estimated in 2013.

The enforcement workshop is one of a series of ARISE+ IPR activities to mark World Intellectual Property Day 2019. Taking place back-to-back with the workshop, ARISE+ IPR is also hosting the 4th meeting of the ASEAN Network of IPR Enforcement Experts (ANIEE) in Manila on 25-26 April, as well as supporting ANIEE members’ participation in World Intellectual Property Day activities with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.

ANIEE consists of representatives from the ASEAN Member States involved in IPR enforcement and is tasked by the ASEAN Working Group on Intellectual Property Cooperation (AWGIPC) to undertake the implementation of the IPR enforcement initiatives under the ASEAN IPR Action Plan 2016-2025.

World Intellectual Property Day is held annually on 26 April to highlight the importance of IP in encouraging innovation and creativity. The global theme for 2019 is IP and Sports.

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