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The leaders of the G8 must take bigger, bolder steps to beat back counterfeiting and piracy, the International Chamber of Commerce said today in a letter sent to G8 leaders in advance of their Summit Meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany. The ICC letter, signed by 23 CEOs and senior business executives, included recommendations for immediate actions to be taken by G8 countries.

“ICC welcomes the importance the G8 has placed on this critical global issue, by keeping counterfeiting and piracy on the agenda for the past four summits and by setting up a working group on intellectual property rights,” said Jean-René Fourtou, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Vivendi and Co-Chair of ICC’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiative. “It is now critical, however, that the words be turned to concrete actions by G8 governments to bring an end to the increasing damage being done by this illegal activity. Other government leaders watch the actions being taken by G8 countries, and we are asking the leaders of the G8 governments to take immediate steps to demonstrate their commitment to stop counterfeiting and piracy and to urgently take tougher measures that will serve as an example to the rest of the world.”

Counterfeiting and piracy are growing at an alarming rate. ICC estimates that businesses lose a total of US$ 600 billion to counterfeiters each year, including fake products moving across borders as well as those produced and sold domestically and those traded on the Internet. In addition, this illegal activity generates enormous costs to the global economy, in areas such as employment, consumer health and safety, technology transfer, tax revenues and public finance and law enforcement.  Moreover, the hefty profits these phony goods bring has attracted organized crime, and caused the attendant social ills these actors bring.

BASCAP unites the global business community to more effectively identify and address intellectual property rights issues and petition for greater commitments by local, national and international officials in the enforcement and protection of IPR.

“The magnitude of the costs and risks associated with counterfeiting and piracy can not be ignored, and the scope and scale of this global problem demands that governments view this as a priority and take decisive and ongoing actions,” said Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, CEO of Nestlé. “There are many steps that can be taken immediately that will have an impact and demonstrate resolve to stop this problem, and the business leaders involved in BASCAP stand ready to assist in any way we can in working with government leaders on these actions.”

The specific steps recommended by the global business leaders through BASCAP include:

  • Abolish all known counterfeit and pirate markets in G8 countries, including Internet sites
  • Prohibit transshipment of counterfeits through free trade zones
  • Take the lead by endorsing World Customs Organization standards that set minimum performance standards, harmonize customs procedures and deter pirates from moving fake merchandise through countries with weak detection systems
  • Take stock of  funding, other resources, and capabilities to fight this scourge in G8 countries
  • Strictly enforce laws against counterfeiting and adopt tough criminal sanctions and penalties that deter intellectual property theft

The  23 top-level executives from around the world who signed the letter, in their capacity as members of BASCAP’S Global Leadership Group include: Paul Adams, CEO of British American Tobacco; Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH; Steven Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft; Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé; David Brennan, CEO of Astra Zeneca; Patrick Cescau, CEO of Unilever; Jean-Francois Dehecq, CEO of Sanofi Aventis; Jean-René Fourtou, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Vivendi; David Iakobachvili, Chairman of Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods; Afaque Ahmed Khan, CEO of Hobo Collections, UAE; Hiroshi Kimura, CEO of Japan Tobacco Inc.; Robert McDonald, Chief Operating Officer of Proctor & Gamble; Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI; Tariq Rangoonwala, Chairman of Forhans, Pakistan; Sidney Taurel, Chairman and CEO of Eli Lilly; Marcus Wallenberg, Chairman of SEB; Gerd Becht, Vice President of DaimlerChrysler; Andreas Fibig, President of Pfizer; Raaja Kanwar, Vice Chairman of UFO Moviez, India; Adriaan Nühn, Executive Vice President of Sara Lee; Randy Pond, Senior Vice President of Cisco Systems; Bob Wright, Vice Chairman of General Electric and Guy Sebban, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce.

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