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Business leaders representing ICC’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiative called on governments and business to take concrete action to stop the global trade in fake products today at a global congress on counterfeiting.

“Policymakers must stand up and make intellectual property protection a priority,” said David Benjamin, Co-Chair of ICC’s BASCAP initiative and Senior Vice President of Universal Music.

“Counterfeiting and piracy is driven by high profits and low risks, and it is going to take strong legal structures and enforcement of the laws to bring an end to the trade in fakes. The CEOs of governments around the world must get involved and demonstrate the leadership needed to make this happen.”

More than 1000 decision-makers from intergovernmental organizations, national governments, enforcement agencies and business are participating in the Fourth Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy in Dubai to identify solutions to the escalating global problem of product counterfeiting and piracy of intellectual property and to put an end to the damaging effects it is having on consumer health and safety, government resources and revenues, innovation and foreign investment.

This year’s congress has stressed the growing problem on the Internet and in free trade zones.

Richard Heath, President-Elect of INTA, Co-Chair of BASCAP and Vice President of Unilever added: “This is a very serious crime that needs to be addressed with appropriately strong sanctions.

Counterfeiting must be recognized as trans-national organized crime by all concerned governments.”Both Mr Heath and Mr Benjamin called for immediate action on the recommendations BASCAP made to the leaders of G8 countries last year.

“We are looking to the leaders of the G8 countries to act on their commitment to stop IP theft, and to move quickly to shut down piracy in free trade zones, eliminate fake, infringing and unsafe products from the Internet and deliver more aggressive enforcement and effective deterrent penalties,” Mr Benjamin said.

In October 2007, the United States, European Union, Japan, Switzerland and Mexico said they had reached agreement on a framework for a new multilateral agreement intended to establish a stronger set of common standards for intellectual property right enforcement among their countries. The new Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) calls for better international coordination, consensus on the best enforcement practices and alignment on provisions of their legal frameworks to ensure that adequate criminal, civil and border protection measures are in place. The initial group of countries hopes other developed and developing countries committed to intellectual property right enforcement will sign on to the agreement.

Heath called on the governments that announced ACTA to move forward and pledged BASCAP’s assistance and support. “We welcome the idea of such a new agreement, but it is essential that this agreement include provisions for stronger criminal law enforcement and enhanced international cooperation,” Heath said. ”We stand ready to help.”

ICC, through its BASCAP initiative, has led a growing consensus among business, non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations, calling for stronger actions and increased cooperation between governments and with the private sector to combat global infringements of intellectual property rights with greater enforcement.

The Congress is being hosted by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and Dubai Customs. Along with the WCO, the Congress is being convened by Interpol, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) through its Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiative, the International Trademark Association (INTA) and the International Security Management Association (ISMA). It is the first Congress held away from the European headquarters of WCO, Interpol and WIPO.

The Global Congress to Combat Counterfeiting and Piracy was previously hosted by WIPO in January 2007 in Geneva; by Interpol in 2005 in Lyon, France; and by WCO in 2004 in Brussels. These international gatherings have provided a valuable forum for representatives from both the public and private sectors to pool their experience, raise awareness, enhance cooperation and identify strategies to deal more effectively with the global problem of counterfeiting and piracy.

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