IP theft mars celebrations

26 Apr 2006

International celebrations around notable achievements such as the inventions of electricity, TV, video recorders and the internet were overshadowed today by grave warnings about the rise of intellectual property (IP) theft as well as the need to boost the creation of IP locally in Ireland.

Today the World Intellectual Property Organisation celebrates World Intellectual Property Day, focusing on ideas that shape our world ranging from the printing of the Gutenberg bible in Germany in 1454, Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone in 1876 and Tim Berners Lee creating the World Wide Web in 1990.

However, a day allotted to marking such notable achievements has come with warnings ranging from the damage IP theft poses to Ireland’s 100,000-employee ICT sector as well as ensuring indigenous Irish companies are at the forefront of inventing world-beating technologies.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has hit out at the still unresolved problem of IP theft, specifically in the form of software piracy. It said that despite Ireland’s position as one of the leading exporters of software in the world we still have a piracy rate of 38pc.

“But IP theft is a problem that affects many industries, from more widely known examples such as music, film and luxury goods to car parts and pharmaceuticals. There are millions of companies and individuals who rely on revenues from IP as return on their previous investments and who invest in research and development (R&D) to make productivity-enhancing tools. It is these investments that are behind the progress making our lives better,” says the BSA.

Ireland’s Minister for Trade and Commerce Michael Ahern TD said there was a lack of public awareness of the concept of IP.

Minister Ahern called for a strong protection regime for Irish companies creating IP and highlighted the importance of creating a business environment that encourages R&D and IP creation.

“If ideas are the source of innovation, in turn innovation is the tool of the entrepreneur,” Minister Ahern said. “The importance of providing an environment for business in which innovative ideas are encouraged and rewarded has long been and continues to be a core objective of this Government.

“The necessity to provide a strong protective regime for the rights of the creators of IP is a crucial element in building a successful knowledge economy.

“Failure to create intellectual property, or to use it, means that our future as an economy will become increasingly uncertain. By the same token, if we succeed and continue to do so ahead of our competitors it will provide the basis for a successful knowledge society,” Minister Ahern said.

By John Kennedy