| Danial Norjidi |
INTELLECTUAL Property-related crime is everyone’s problem, as it affects people around the world in one way or another, and a collaborative approach is needed to combat it.
This was highlighted by Todd Clements, one of the speakers at the ‘Capacity Building on IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) Enforcement’ workshop, which was opened yesterday at the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB)’s headquarters.
Organised by the BEDB through the Brunei Darussalam Intellectual Property Office (BruIPO), under the EU-Asean Project on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (ECAP III Phase II), the workshop was attended by Shahrinah Yusof Khan, the Director-General of the BruIPO as well as 20 participants from the Royal Customs and Excise Department and Royal Brunei Police Force.
During the workshop, Clements, a Detective Chief Inspector who has 30 years of experience in the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Police Service of Northern Ireland, began his presentation by providing an overview of IP-related crimes.
Some of the examples he named included those of not just counterfeiting hand bags, clothes or money, but also of things like air bags, car brakes and even shampoo.
“IP crime is not something that stands on its own. It’s organised crime,” he said. “Terrorism is expensive; it needs money. Organised crime needs money. IP crime is one of the best ways for them to do so.”
This, he continued, is why much of the focus of the policing in Northern Ireland has been on IP crime as opposed to terrorism itself.
“It’s easier to catch them doing the crime they spend 90 per cent of their time on as opposed to the one they spend 10 per cent of their time on.”
In his session, he asserted that law enforcement needs to get into the minds of the criminals they are trying to catch.
“To catch a criminal, you must think like one,” he said. “To counter counterfeiting, you must understand the business of counterfeiting. You won’t catch anyone unless you put your intellect to it.”
He said that criminals are more likely to look into various forms of IP crime for financing as opposed to drugs, for example, because IP crimes such as counterfeiting have a lower risk for a high financial gain.
When it comes to IPR, he stressed that it is crucial for law enforcement to be collaborative, holistic and dynamic in their approach.
“It’s a problem for all of us,” he said. “We need police, customs, lawyers, IP workers.”
Elaborating further on these points in an interview, Clements told the Bulletin, “Law enforcement usually deals with issues without needing anyone’s cooperation. The point I’m making is that in IP crime, if you don’t have a complaint from the rights holder, how do you prove its counterfeit?”
“When you confiscate drugs, you can have them examined in a laboratory, and it’s (identified as) heroin, for example, and you prosecute,” he said. “When you have counterfeit shampoo, you can’t just take it to the lab and say it is shampoo.”
“It’s one of those very unique crimes where you need cooperation, and the only way, in my opinion, to do that is with the collaboration of the government, law enforcement, customs, academia; you need everybody.”
“To me, the only way to do it is completely collaboratively,” he added.
He highlighted that the issues that IP crime pose are also something that Brunei also needs to cope with.
“If you’re dealing with the rest of the world, then you have to get to grips with these issues because you’re an international country; you will be dealing with these issues,” he said.
Meanwhile, another invited speaker to feature at the workshop was Daniel Koener, Chief Customs Inspector from Luxembourg, who spoke on various facets of IPR pertaining to customs
During his presentation, he spoke on the 2013 EU-IPR report which confirmed the trend of IP crime, beginning in 2007. He said the results have shown more cases, but less detained articles, as well as an increase of detentions in postal and express courier services. In addition, results show that the 72 per cent of the goods found to be in violation of IPR originate from China, while 95 per cent of cases are trademark concerned.
The workshop is set to continue with its second and final day today, where the two speakers will discuss more topics pertaining to IPR enforcement.