The importance of Irish legislation in preventing piracy and curbing the growing counterfeit market worldwide was addressed by Dr Jimmy Devin, TD, Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, at today’s Intellectual Property Ireland 2009 Conference.
Minister Devlin said that even in cases where people are taking the right steps to protect their intellectual property (IP), there is evidence this is being increasingly threatened by piracy and counterfeiting.
“The OECD has estimated that in 2007, for example, the global trade in fake goods was worth around US$200bn,” he said.
“To put that in perspective, it is more than the GDP of 150 countries, and indeed that figure does not include goods produced and consumed within countries.”
In his opening speech at the conference today, Minister Devlin went on to report that the EU customs services seized around 75 million fake articles in 2005, but that by 2007 this number had almost doubled.
“Some countries have a bigger piracy and counterfeiting problems than others, but – make no mistake about it – this is now a problem virtually everywhere.
“The 2007 OECD report that I just quoted highlights infringing products being intercepted in 150 source countries. But, there are real efforts being made to fight back,” he added.
In Europe, there are several initiatives to cut out the red tape involved in IP development: the Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Market (OHIM), which is the EU trademark agency, has put forward a major fee reduction.
In addition to this, there are talks to put in place a single EU patent and a single patent jurisdiction in Europe, while a new EU Observatory is being set up to monitor this.
From the point of view of piracy problems, a new pan-global agreement has been proposed between the EU, US, Japan and other countries regarding anti-counterfeiting trade.
The Minister also referred to the Policy Statement on ‘Innovation in Ireland’ launched last year – a policy to enable the development of IP that came out of publicly funded research.
This, along with initiatives by IDA Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, is an important part of establishing a strong R&D environment here in Ireland by getting educational bodies and the industry to work together, he added.
“The growing partnership between the universities and business, and their increased levels of joint working, has already underlined changes in the role of the university in society.
“Universities are now becoming more closely involved in the manufacturing of commodities resulting from their inventions.”
By Marie Boran