The World Customs Organization (WCO) joined the international community in celebrating World Intellectual Property Day 2017 under the theme “Innovations – Improving Lives,” as it provides an ideal opportunity to underline Customs’ important role in the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) at borders.
Faced with intense globalization, international trade and global supply chains are significantly more complex than ever before, posing a constant challenge to Customs authorities around the world as they strive to achieve a balance between regulating and facilitating trade.
Protecting the IPR of goods being shipped globally falls in this category as well: How to protect society from harmful counterfeit goods entering the market whilst not impeding the flow of genuine merchandise? For the WCO, protecting society from counterfeit goods that can lead to severe health and safety issues is, and will remain, high on its agenda.
“Intellectual property is crucial to the growth of our society as it fosters innovation and modernization in countless areas such as medicines, transportation, energy and ICT to name a few. On this special day, I would like to reaffirm the WCO’s dedication to protecting artistic creation and preserving a vibrant industrial fabric by actively engaging and leading Customs in the global fight against counterfeiting and piracy,” said WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya.
Thanks to its exhaustive IPR, Health and Safety Programme, revolving around raising awareness and providing capacity building activities, the WCO dedicates important resources to the fight against counterfeiting and piracy on a yearly basis.
In 2016 alone, the WCO carried out IPR-related capacity building activities in some 62 countries covering all six WCO regions of the world. Further to these workshops, the WCO also coordinated two main enforcement operations in 2016: Seascape and ACIM.
Seascape, an initiative within the Americas region aimed at curbing the counterfeiting trade phenomenon before the inauguration of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, generated significant results in the clothing, accessories and games area, registering a total seizure of 4.6 million articles.
ACIM, which mobilized 16 Customs administrations in the African region to fight against illicit medicines, resulted in the detention of some 129 million articles, most of them illicit pharmaceutical products.
As counterfeiting and piracy grow steadily, the threat it poses to the global economy and to society is also increasing, causing concern to all industry sectors as counterfeit and pirated products are now widespread and contaminate legal markets across the globe.
As Customs administrations are responsible for protecting national borders from the illegal flow of counterfeit and pirated goods, as well as other illicit products, the WCO continues to lead discussions on global efforts to fight such crimes. – WCO