The ACG is marking (or in its words
celebrating) World Anti-Counterfeiting Day with an
enforcement-training event at Heathrow Airport, where new
techniques will be showcased. Officers from the UK Border
Force, HMRC, police and Trading Standards are participating.
"This reflects the significance placed by enforcement
authorities on training and ensuring officers are equipped with
the necessary skills to combat this evermore-dangerous criminal
activity," says ACG’s press statement.
This is the 20th such training event to be held
at the airport (right), which is one of the
world’s busiest: it
handled nearly 75 million passengers and 1.5 million metric
tonnes of cargo last year.
Meanwhile, over in Alicante, OHIM (through the Observatory
on Infringements of IP Rights), Europol and Eurojust are this
week hosting an
event (below left) on fighting counterfeit cosmetics,
perfumes and luxury goods. The three-day meeting follows a
report that these industries lose an estimated €5
billion each year to counterfeits.
One of the aims of the Alicante event is to "reinforce
operational ties between enforcement authorities and
businesses". It has also led to the creation of a European IP
Prosecutors Network, covering the EU member states, Norway and
Customs and private investigators
importance of cooperation between public and private sectors
was made clear at a breakfast seminar on IP in emerging
markets, which I attended at the London office of Hogan Lovells
this week. Lawyers from Mexico, Russia, Hong Kong and the UAE
stressed the vital role that Customs officials and private
investigators can play. But, as Peter Hansen of the
firm’s Dubai office said, there is a fine line
between cooperation and what he called "funny business".
For example, making a test purchase of a small amount of
counterfeit goods in a market should be above board, but
placing a larger order with the seller could amount to
entrapment, and even constitute aiding and abetting crime.
Similarly, when working with public officials, most people
would agree it is OK to provide free training and
workshops, and short presentations about trade mark rights and
wrongs. But is it also acceptable to offer samples or other
gifts, and buy meals or drinks?
These questions are becoming more relevant as governments
worldwide tighten up laws on bribery and corruption, and
more countries sign up to the
OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. In the UK, for example, the
Bribery Act expands both the definition and geographical
scope of bribery, as well as providing heavy penalties. Bribery
of foreign public officials is a distinct crime under the
Effective cooperation with enforcement authorities and
constructive use of investigators are becoming more important
in tackling counterfeits, especially as public resources are
stretched and counterfeit trade spreads. But it’s
also vital that all parties involved are clear about, and
monitor, what is acceptable behaviour.
This is not always straightforward. Readers might be
familiar with the so-called emotional
conjugation, coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell,
which mimics an irregular verb. Examples include "I am firm;
you are obstinate; he is a pig-headed fool" and (from the BBC
TV comedy series Yes,
Minister) "I have an independent mind; you are eccentric;
he is round the twist".
Well, what about this one? "I provided a service; you
offered a gift; he paid a bribe."
In recent years companies such as
BAE, GSK and
Goodyear have been targeted by bribery and corruption
investigators, with some very expensive results. IP owners
should avoid complacency and make doubly sure
they’re not next in the firing line.