Intellectual Property Rights (June 2006)

The Issue

Counterfeiting and piracy are a rapidly growing problem for American companies, costing the U.S. economy between US$ 200 billion and US$ 250 billion a year. American consumers, who believe they are buying a trusted American brand, and are often unwittingly purchasing dangerous and defective products, such as fake pharmaceutical drugs, fake auto parts, and fake electrical products and batteries.

Piracy and counterfeiting in Asia cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year. Pirated software, DVDs, CDs, electronic equipment, pharmaceutical products and car parts account for an estimated 5%-7% of world trade. These illicit products not only hurt the U.S. economy and stifle innovation, but many pirated and counterfeited products also affect public health and safety.

In a world of intense competition for foreign investment, the ability of countries in Asia to attract and retain foreign investment often depends on how well they protect the intellectual property rights of investors. Many countries in the region have enacted legislation criminalizing piracy and counterfeiting, but enforcement often remains weak.

Individual U.S. companies and industries have tried to win this battle on their own. Some of these efforts have produced positive results, but in many countries in the region business is still losing the larger war.

As a result, the American Chambers of Commerce in Asia (APCAC)—working with the US Chamber of Commerce—has launched initiatives to stem the growing threat of counterfeiting and piracy. We are working with manufacturers, retailers and law enforcement officials to disrupt counterfeiting networks and stop pirates from operating their illegal business. We are educating lawmakers, business leaders and the media about the threats of piracy. We are securing business supply chains by toughening existing laws and increasing enforcement efforts. We are working with key governments like those in China, India, Thailand and Korea to strengthen intellectual property protection by cooperating to build enforcement capacity, improve public advocacy and boost consumer awareness. In the coming year, we will also extend our efforts in other critical markets, including Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

What is Being Done

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy have released recommendations on steps companies can take to protect their supply chains from counterfeiters and modern-day pirates. The U.S. Chamber is working with government and industry on a global scale to help thwart this growing threat. Read more …

What More Needs to be Done

APCAC urges the U.S. government to:

  • continue to work with governments in Asia to improve implementation of laws and policies to stem piracy and enforce IP protection
  • cooperate with governments of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping to develop a robust and measurable action plan to protect IP in the region
  • work with countries in Asia to develop effective methodologies to benchmark progress within the region to stem counterfeiting and piracy
  • encourage governments to share in a more transparent manner information with each other about illegal operators and landlords engaged in piracy and counterfeiting so they can be identified easily and blacklisted throughout the region
  • urge greater and enhanced coordination and sharing between customs and police officials in various Asia Pacific countries.

APCAC, individual chambers and the US Chamber will:

  • continue to advocate for greater IP enforcement and protection in the Asia Pacific region
  • work together and with governments and companies in the region to build increased capacity for tackling counterfeiting and piracy, beginning with a study of the unique characteristics of these problems in each of the countries in which we work
  • expand upon existing education campaigns targeting government leaders, companies and the press on the economic damage and health and safety threats caused by piracy and counterfeiting
  • expand efforts to collect relevant and timely data that can be given the U.S. and Asian governments on overall IP challenges and problems in the Asian region
  • work to increase awareness among local government officials on the costs of piracy and counterfeiting to their tax revenues
  • urge companies to register their trademarks and patents with the appropriate authorities in each country
  • explore with companies whether it is possible to make their copyrighted products available at lower costs in developing countries to reduce some of the incentive for people on limited incomes to purchase illicit products.

AmCham Thailand - Bangkok

AmCham provides American businesses and businesspersons with a venue for the exchange of ideas and for identifying common purposes to pursue in both the private and government sectors, in Thailand, in the Asian region, and in the United States.