Counterfeiting and Piracy are two of the fastest growing economic crimes in the world today. They threaten the economies of developed and developing countries alike, undermining trading relations, endangering public health and safety and affecting new investment opportunities for economic growth. They have affected almost every industry and all categories of products, but the impact has been particularly high in the FMCG, pharmacy, electronics, automobile and aircraft parts, music, publishing, software, telecom, cosmetics, personal care, beverage sectors etc.
The 7th International Conference on Anti-Counterfeiting & Anti-Piracy organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and held on the 24th and 25th October in Pune, sought to address these issues. Representatives of The Beacon had had the fortune of attending this extremely enlightening event. Here’s an extremely brief account of the discussions held;
1. ROLE OF THE CUSTOMS DEPARTMENT– The Customs Department has been playing a stellar role in battling piracy. In the Department’s efforts in constantly implementing long term and effective ways of curbing Piracy and Counterfeiting, the Police Department has always stood by its side. The audience was informed about the recent developments initiated by The Central Board of Excise and Customs in the form of a Risk Management System (RMS) and Automated Recording and Targeting System (ARTS).
2.SOFTWARE PIRACY AND COUNTERFEITING – The problem lies in the fact that, most IP laws have national jurisdictions and there are no jurisdictional solutions to curb software piracy, as software created by an individual in one country is easily downloaded in another country. Treaties and Agreements entered into by and between countries to curb Piracy of software is seemingly the only solution available now. It was discussed how initiation of more stringent anti-piracy agreements and treaties entered into between countries can help curb Software Piracy.
3.THE IP ECOSYSTEM –
Reference was made of a number of landmark cases in Indian Judicial history to set the context of this discussion, such as:
- The ITC Bukhara case,
- Videocon V/s Whirlpool ICC V/s NDTV,
- Indian TV V/s Yashraj Films,
- Super Cassettes V/s MySpace,
- State of Gujarat V/s Mohanlal Jitamji Porwal.
It was proposed that segregated and dedicated IP cells are required to be maintained under the Police Department to look exclusively into IPR issues. The Beijing Treaty on Audio Visual Performance administered by the WIPO, which is the largest platform for piracy prevention was discussed in details. Furthermore, audience was informed as to how Counterfeiting and Piracy activities are usually always traced back to terrorist outfits, as it is through these inter alia that such organisations raise funds.
4.THE CBI – The role of CBI was discussed at length and how good intelligence is vital to curb counterfeiting; information about what counterfeit material is coming into India and from whom is very important for the CBI to keep a tab on infringers. It was suggested that creating a database of traders associations in FMCGs would help in bringing them together against counterfeiting. Creating a hotline and online database where consumers can report counterfeiting activities was also encouraged. Framework to encourage IP holders to come forth and give evidence without fear against Counterfeiters and Pirates must be encouraged as well.
5.JUDGMENTS IN THE WEST-Important Foreign judgments like Louis Vuitton V/s Akanoc Solutions Inc. & Tiffany V/s EBay were discussed at length emphasizing how piracy has been handled in the West and how the developing nations can absorb similar policies, keeping in tandem their local requirements was concurred upon in discussions by open panels.
6.THE PUBLICATION INDUSTRY – It was agreed that under no circumstances can book piracy be eradicated in totality, but sensitizing authors to take anti-piracy measures can surely help curb the menace to a certain extent. The audience was informed about the Copyright Enforcement Advisory Council (CEAC), formed to review the progress of enforcement of the Copyright Act periodically and to advise the Government regarding measures for improving the enforcement of the Act.
7.PIRACY IN MOTION PICTURES – The real problem lies in finding ways to stop usage of camcorders or mobile phone cameras in movie theaters. Many a times it has been seen that the Theater owners partner with miscreants to create infringing copies. Constant follow ups on infringing ISPs are required to curb piracy in motion pictures.
8.THE AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY – The automobile industry has suffered immensely over the years owing to gradual brand erosion fuelled by spurious parts flooding the market. The problem lies in the fact that, it becomes very difficult for a customer to know if he is being handed over a duplicate part as these parts are made carefully to look as identical as possible to the real ones. Even holograms and product coding techniques have been replicated. The only possible way to discourage such counterfeiters is by teaming up with auto-part seller’s associations and publishing regular alerts about such individuals in their journals and magazines.
Conclusion– All in all, an extremely informative couple of days, however, The Beacon humbly puts forth that a lot of the suggested solutions seemed like paper soldiers pitted against dragons. Talking about dragons, all the speakers acknowledged that a large wedge of the counterfeiting pie was baked in China. Industry heads from all the sectors agreed that the crusade against counterfeiting and piracy was no more than a race where the IP holder was always one step behind the infringer. Counterfeiting can never be done away with completely, what can be done is, being aggressive with taking action against infringers, conducting regular raids, creating a sense of urgency in the minds of law enforcement agencies with respect to economic offences (something that has been quite absent thus far), ostracizing infringers and pirate socially and constantly innovating on IP protection methods. An extremely important experience for our team, luxurious hospitality by The Westin, Pune, The Beacon couldn’t have asked for more. Hope you enjoyed reading this post.