ICC Chairman Jean-René Fourtou called on business leaders yesterday to join in a global private-sector initiative to combat product counterfeiting and piracy, saying actions by governments to curb the spread of fakes were insufficient. He called on companies to “build a united front” to stop piracy and counterfeiting worldwide.
“This illegal activity is spiraling out of control,” he said. “It is a major threat. It’s like a cancer.”
Mr Fourtou issued the appeal as he was honoured at the United Nations yesterday evening by the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which presented him with its 2004 International Leadership Award. He is the first non-American to be so honoured in the 25-year history of the award.
USCIB Chairman Dean R. O’Hare said Mr Fourtou had done “an impressive job” of returning Vivendi Universal to the path of profitability. He called Mr Fourtou “a champion of international trade and global economic integration,” noting his longtime association with the International Chamber of Commerce.
Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Louise Fréchette also spoke at the dinner, highlighting the “sense of enlightened self-interest” she said is driving closer partnerships between the UN and business.
She cited the close working relationship forged with ICC and others in the business community on such issues as spurring investment in developing countries, helping promote Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Global Compact and lending support to the UN Fund for International Partnerships. Mr Fourtou announced the formation of an ICC-led coalition — known as Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy — to raise consumer and government awareness of the harm done by fakes, and to provide local and national stakeholders with tools to improve enforcement of intellectual property rights. He appealed to companies and CEOs around the world to back the project.
“Counterfeiting and piracy are crimes and the economic losses they entail are enormous,” Mr Fourtou stated. “The victims include the creators and the industries, governments who lose hundreds of millions in tax revenues, economies that are deprived of new investment and consumers who are put at risk from sub-standard goods.”
According to Mr Fourtou, the broad business effort will press government officials toward results-oriented action, petitioning for the re-allocation of resources.
“This is a necessary engagement at a time when the creation and distribution of intellectual property has become a key driver of world economic growth,” he said.
The ICC initiative will complement the re cently announced US government plan to apply the full weight of US diplomatic and legal remedies to stop trade in fakes.
“We hope that the US and other governments will show support for the ICC program by following through on their promises to deal with intellectual property rights abuses more swiftly,” said USCIB President Thomas Niles.
Each year since 1980, USCIB has honoured a senior business executive for significant policy leadership in improving the global competitive framework for American business.
Recent recipients of the International Leadership Award include Charles O. Holliday, Jr. of DuPont and George David of United Technologies.