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The International Chamber of Commerce’s BASCAP group today launched a set of intellectual property (IP) guidelines designed to help businesses manage copyright and branded materials and deter trade in counterfeit and pirate goods.

The Intellectual Property Guidelines for Business were released in Arabic, during a special session of the Egyptian Consumer Protection Agency Conference on Counterfeit Goods. The IP Guidelines provide information to businesses on practical steps that they can take to protect their own innovation and creativity in IP-based products and services, as well as to protect against the risk of using counterfeit materials or infringing other companies’ IP rights.

Copyright and branded goods are an important part of every modern economy. The most innovative and advanced sectors rely heavily on IP to support innovation in their own products and services.  Nearly every enterprise today uses or produces some form of IP in its business – from its own trademarks on products, to copyrighted publications, music, video or software, to branded goods and services of all types.

The ICC/BASCAP IP Guidelines will help companies to assess the effectiveness of their IP management policies, and to consider new options for improving performance and managing the risks associated with counterfeiting and piracy. The IP Guidelines deal with IP management in all its forms within companies, from IP development to component sourcing, manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing, relations with intermediaries and handling of third parties’ IP.

“Counterfeiting and piracy of copyright and branded goods are a $700 billion worldwide problem which hurts not only consumers but also businesses and the overall economy,” said Alaa Ezz, Secretary General of ICC Egypt.

“While most of our efforts at ICC are concentrated on communicating to governments the importance of intellectual property and the critical need to protect it against counterfeiting and piracy, weemphasize that everyone has a responsibility to protect IP, including consumers, the media and actors throughout the supply chain,” Mr Ezz said. “Good laws and government enforcement are crucial to combat this problem, but there is a lot that businesses can do to protect their own creative and innovative products, and to avoid the risk that their supply chain or company operations have been compromised by infringing items.”

Chris Oldknow, Enforcement Policy Counsel at Microsoft, explained: “The IP Guidelines are designed to be useful to a wide range of businesses in different sectors, and are suitable to be tailored to deal more specifically with particular industries or sectors. We hope the launch of the ICC-BASCAP IP Guidelines will introduce conference participants and government officials to the guidelines and encourage the adoption of good IP management practices as part of corporate and public policies.”

“Respect for intellectual property helps to improve economic competitiveness. The global trade in fakes does exactly the opposite – it hurts consumers, businesses and the economy in every country,” Mr Oldknow added.

“In addition to today’s public launch, an important part of the educational process is to distribute the IP Guidelines to companies around the world,” said Jeff Hardy, ICC’s BASCAP Coordinator. “We have released the guidelines in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Arabic. Governments have an important role to play in combating counterfeiting and piracy, but we also work with companies large and small to help the business community itself to manage and protect intellectual property more effectively.”

Mr Ezz added that guarding against IP crime has not commanded the attention, the respect, the resources or the public policy response that is necessary. “Now is not the time to look the other way – not here [in Egypt], not anywhere else in the world. Greater investment in – and protection of – IP is more critical than ever to reverse the economic downturn and maintain social stability.”

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