Psst?.Wanna Buy a? Think Again !
New government anti-piracy program aimed at nabbing counterfeit goods at the border
WASHINGTON, DC - 10/06/04 - The Bush Administration has rolled out a major new government-wide initiative to fight the global trade in pirated and counterfeit goods.
The new program - the Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy, or STOP! - will work to interdict "an illegal trade that cheats American innovators and manufacturers, hurts the US economy, and endangers consumers worldwide," said US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Zoellick.
The USTR publicly unveiled the initiative at a press conference Monday in company with his counterparts from the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and Homeland Security.
The "trade in fake goods is growing, cheating American innovators and producers out of billions of dollars and threatening consumers all over the world with low quality and often unsafe products. This problem crosses many different jurisdictions, laws and countries, and the STOP initiative provides a coordinated and effective answer," said Zoellick.
Key elements of the STOP! program include assistance to US companies - particularly small and medium-sized firms - inventors, and innovators to "secure and enforce their rights" in overseas markets; ensuring consumer safety standards by securing America's borders and marketplace from counterfeit products; and "raising the stakes and making life more onerous" for intellectual property thieves through new Customs procedures aimed at increasing costs to violators far beyond seizing shipments."
The new initiative, the USTR said, will also act as the springboard for the development of a "No Trade in Fakes" program in cooperation with the private sector "to ensure that global supply chains are free of infringing goods."
In addition, Zoellick said, the program will provide the base for the dismantling of criminal enterprises that steal intellectual property "by using all appropriate criminal laws, and overhauling, updating and modernizing US intellectual property statutes;" and combine forces with "like-minded trading partners concerned about the growing global IPR piracy problem," such as the European Union, Japan, the UK, and France, all of which have recently launched similar anti-piracy programs.
According to a recently published INTERPOL report, global intellectual property rights (IPR) theft and the trade in fakes "have grown to unprecedented levels, threatening many American businesses, innovators and manufacturers that depend on strong IPR enforcement for their competitiveness."
The international law enforcement agency estimates that a full 7% of global trade now involves counterfeited goods.
The trade in fakes, the report said "is becoming more than just a commercial or copyright problem," adding that "consumer safety worldwide is threatened when cheap and unregulated goods are used."
Though not alone, China has emerged as a leading source of pirated and counterfeit goods, said Zoellick with the US "pressing China to fully implement and effectively enforce its WTO IPR obligations."
In April 2004, China committed to subject the full array of piracy and counterfeiting operations to criminal prosecution, and to target production facilities and sales of fakes, he said.
Last month, the Office of the USTR initiated the first-ever systematic review of China's intellectual property enforcement regime, including soliciting evidence from US businesses.
Several other countries have been targeted for anti-piracy action, the USTR said.
Last year, for example, the US imposed $75 million in trade sanctions on Ukraine, which are still in effect, and removed $250 million in preferential access for Argentina.
Since 2000, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has increased IPR seizures by 100%.
So far this year, the agency has logged more than 5,500 seizures of counterfeit goods from CDs, DVDs, and watches to clothing, brake pads, and even automobiles, valued at $90 million.
"The message to the IPR pirates and counterfeiters is simple," said Zoellick. "We will do everything we can to make their life miserable; we will stop their products at our border; we will name and shame your company; we will ratchet up the penalties; and we will coordinate with our trading partners to prevent third-country trafficking."
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