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In a letter to European Union Commission President José Manuel Barroso, the Chairmen/CEOs of international companies who head up ICC’s BASCAP (Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy) project have said that fighting the counterfeiting of intellectual property and product piracy is one of the most critical steps the European Union can take to increase economic competitiveness. The companies include Vivendi Universal, Nestlé, Microsoft, EMI and GlaxoSmithKline.

Welcoming recent European Commission initiatives to tackle this illegal activity, the letter from more than a dozen top executives of ICC member companies urged the Commission to ensure that these initiatives are followed through and given the sufficient political support and the resources necessary to be effective.

The letter said: ”Unfair competition from counterfeiting and piracy worldwide drains billions annually from the ‘virtuous circle’ of economic growth that intellectual property generates, and costs the EU more than 100 000 in lost jobs.”

The letter noted that counterfeiters do not innovate. Neither do they pay tax or reinvest in research and development. ”They sometimes even put fakes on the market that pose health and safety dangers to consumers.”

The executives offered their support and assistance to the Commission. “There is much more that can be done at European level to tackle this serious economic and social problem”, the BASCAP letter said.

BASCAP is an ICC initiative formed a year ago to increase public and political awareness of the economic and social harm associated with counterfeiting and piracy. It represents hundreds of businesses and trade associations around the world from all sectors of industry.

Signatories of the letter are:

Jean-René Fourtou, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Vivendi Universal

ICC Honorary Chairman and Co-Chairman of BASCAP

Eric Nicoli, Chairman of EMI Group

Co-Chairman of BASCAP

Steven A. Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft, United States

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman & CEO, Nestlé, Switzerland

David Brennan, CEO, Astra Zeneca, United Kingdom

David Iakobachvili, Chairman, Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods, Russia

Sudhir Jalan, Vice-Chairman, SICPA India Ltd. India

Afaque Ahmed Khan, CEO, Hobo Collections Emirates, United Arab Emirates

Randy Pond, Senior Vice President Operations, Processes and Systems, Cisco Systems United States

Tariq M. Rangoonwala, CEO, Home Products International, Pakistan

Marcus Wallenberg, Chairman, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, Sweden

Andrew Witty, President, Pharmaceuticals Europe, GlaxoSmithKline, United Kingdom

Bob Wright, Vice Chairman & Executive Officer, General Electric Company

Chairman & CEO, NBC Universal, United States

Guy Sebban, Secretary General, International Chamber of Commerce

Chair of BASCAP Steering Committee