AmCham’s 8th Conference on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) attracted 25 speakers and around 80 guests to explore the challenges facing enforcement of intellectual property rights in Serbia. Three international speakers, namely, Mr. Michael Keplinger, Former Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Mr. Tim Ramsey, Senior Anti-Piracy Investigator, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and Mr. Eugene Danilov, Microsoft’s Antipiracy manager CEE MC Region shared their experiences and best practices in fighting IPR infringements in developing and developed markets.
From the keynote presentations of Minister Slobodan Milosavljevic,
Ambassador Warlick specifically emphasized the importance of proper IPR enforcement on economic development, innovations and national attractiveness for foreign direct investment (FDI). She also enumerated the challenges in coordinating various authorities with IPR protection responsibilities within the Serbian Government, concluding that IPR enforcement deserves a ministerial-level champion. Ambassador Warlick added that adoption and enforcement of the Optical Discs Law, strengthening judicial and prosecutorial training, increasing the number and quality of professional staff dedicated to cyber crime, as well as promoting public awareness on the perils of IP infringements are just some of the concrete suggestions for better IPR protection in years to come.
The EU’s Andrew Heady stated that
Participants in the panel discussion on counterfeiting and smuggling of fast-moving consumer goods, music and film piracy and, finally, software license infringements also acknowledged that the effectiveness of relevant institutions responsible for IP rights enforcement could be further improved.
IPR enforcement authorities predominantly see room for improvement in the specialization and further education of personnel involved, increased use of modern technology, cross- border cooperation with exchange of information and planning joint activities, creation of relevant databases and improvement in cooperation with title holders. Such cooperation could take the form of relevant training of competent authorities in recognizing IPR infringements, prompt response by title holders once they are contacted by the authorities, as well as notification of IP infringements that would complement or assist the ex officio activities of the relevant authorities.
Similar to discussion from the last year’s conference, it was again noted that problems of storage and destruction of counterfeit, smuggled and pirated goods still persists, resulting in significant costs. A solution still needs to be found in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning with regard to destruction of such goods in line with the new set of environmental laws. In addition, title holders should be more vigilant in providing prompt answers to calls from the Customs Administration, Market Inspection or the Police with regards to seized and suspect goods.
Finally, Goran Pekez commended the importance of adoption of a Decree on Conditions and Manner of Application of Measures for the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights on the Border which will come into force on January 1, 2011.
With regard to announcements for plans to improve IPR enforcement by relevant implementing institutions:
· Minister Milosavljevic announced reform in Market Inspection aimed at increasing efficiency in curbing street piracy, with creation of a database and further modernization if funds for IPR projects are secured.
· Dejan Vidojević, Assistant Director of the Tax Administration, announced formation of a specialized unit within the Tax Administration to deal exclusively with software license compliance, as well as new public relations efforts that will publish results of further activities.
· Slavica Arsić-Jovičić, Assistant Director of the Tax Administration in charge of control, announced plans to include improved checking for music and film piracy.
· Darko Stojičević, Head of the IPR Department, Customs Administration announced completion of a database that would assist full tracking of previous and ongoing cases as well as electronic notification of infringements.
· Branko Stamenković, Head of the Special High-Tech Department of the Higher Public Prosecutors Office, Belgrade, announced that he would discourage settlements in IPR cases during investigation procedures, as well as encouraging appeals against lenient judgments and penalties, especially concerning repeat offenders.
· Nenad Banović, Head of the Border Police, announced stronger efforts to combat illicit trade and counterfeiting at national borders.
· Government of Serbia should express a clear political will and work on coordinatedefforts of all relevant state authorities in the efficient enforcement of IP rights.· AmCham supports for adoption of the Optical Discs Law and its proper enforcement is vital.
· AmCham also supports further strengthening of regional cooperation of the authorities in countering smuggling and counterfeit goods.
· AmCham supports the announced establishment of a specialized unit of the Tax Administration for checking licensed software.
· In the area of preventive activities, all implementing authorities need better public relations, for instance announcements of more stringent checks with regard to IP infringement and periodic publication of the outcome of their activities.
· Judges in IPR cases should apply more stringent penalty policies, especially for repeat offenders, and ensure more efficient judicial procedures.
· AmCham recommends further specialization and further education of the implementing authorities is needed, in particular with regards to the area of High-Tech Crime.
· All participants of the conference highlighted the need for continuous cooperation between the competent authorities and the IPR title holders
AmCham kindly thanks JTI, Microsoft and OSA for sponsoring 8th AmCham’s Conference on IPR and enabling the tradition of AmCham annual IPR conferences in the times of crisis.