For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Genuine-fake data and legal compendium: the WCO gets busy

The partnership between Customs
and Business, symbolised by a piece
of red tape which may twist
and change colour but
is never broken
The World Customs Organization (WCO) doesn't often get a mention on this weblog, which is a shame since its work is important and, while it is not exclusively concerned with intellectual property issues, it impinges substantially upon them.  The IPKat is therefore pleased to host this post from his friend Marius Schneider (Eeman & Partners, Belgium and Chairman of the ECTA Anti-Counterfeiting Committee).  Write Marius:
"WCO launches an anti-counterfeiting interface for public members

The WCO is an intergovernmental organization with an exclusive focus on Customs matters. It is  recognized for, inter alia, its work in areas covering the development of global standards, the simplification and harmonization of Customs procedures, trade supply chain security, the facilitation of international trade, the enhancement of Customs enforcement and compliance activities, and sustainable global Customs capacity building programs.

Recently the WCO launched a new initiative against counterfeiting and piracy, which comes in the form of an interface between private sector and customs. This interface allows right-holders to access different WCO tools and publications related to combating IP infringements, including:

• A “genuine-fake” database that field customs officers can access. This database will be available via the national authorities intranets, which are reportedly very secure and, of course, easily and freely available to customs officers. The database will contain a lot of visual information (eg pictures of the goods and the packaging) to distinguish genuine from fake goods and all verbal elements will be available in the language of the customs officer. The information must be uploaded by the right-holder and can be modified and updated at any time. The right-holder can chose the countries to which the information is to be supplied and limit sensitive data transmission to certain countries. The database will be hosted by a specialized company on a dedicated server with secure access. Customs officers who access the database will be identified by their IP address, a login and a password. Of course this database cannot replace the application for customs action, but it can supplement such an application. 
• A “genuine-fake” training program provided to national customs authorities. The WCO has developed training tools for national authorities, both on paper and in digital format. The aim is to limit travel [to please the IPKat, who believes that information can be disseminated pretty well these days without people having to fly to get it] but to assure nevertheless a widespread distribution of the available information. 
• Compendium of laws. In the future WCO plans to add-on a compendium of national IPR legislation [the IPKat wonders how much of this law is already on WIPO's CLEA database -- which in the past has sometimes lacked the documents for which the Kat has been hunting.  Also, how many languages will they be made available in?] and “counterfeiting reports” by sector available to Right Holders through IPM.

The interface will be available from early 2011 [That's only three weeks away, says Merpel excitedly]. So far 31 customs administrations have expressed great interest in the tool. Unfortunately, there are only three EU Member States among these countries (Italy, Poland and Portugal) and only very few major trading countries (among which Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland).

The costs for right-holders will vary depending on their turnover. A small discount is granted for long-term subscriptions. By way of example, for companies with a turnover of less than 100 million Euro the annual subscription fee is 2,800 Euro ; for those with more than 500 million Euro it is 8,800 Euro.[that's less than the cost of one new Rolex -- and just think how many fake ones may be caught at the border ...]

The WCO, which represents 177 national customs administrations around the world, is probably the right type of organization to promote this web-based tool. The WCO will promote the interface with the highest political level and during operations and training programs for national customs authorities".
The IPKat is really pleased to see this progress, but reminds readers that all of this does not add up to a single   fake item being identified and seized.  The real work remains to be done.

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