As a joint initiative of AmCham member companies, the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Committee was established in 2004 with the goal of improving the status of intellectual property rights in Serbia. Over the following years, the Committee has established close cooperation with key Government and public institutions and accomplished significant results in various aspects of IPR.
1. Implementation of the Article 75 of the Public Procurement Law
2. Advocating for the continuation of work of the Tax Administration’s Special Unit for Control of Software Legality
3. Improving cooperation with Customs Administration regarding notifications on ceased goods
4. Organization of the IPR related event(s).
The past year has been a milestone for AmCham’s IPR Committee, not just because the IDC software piracy study showed a decrease of 2% after a couple of years of the status quo, but also because the Committee turned to a public awareness campaign 8 years after its first such campaign (Famous Actors, Musicians Join AmCham’s Anti-Piracy Campaign “Not at the Expense of Others”).
Changes to the regulatory framework, despite the Committee’s activities, took a turn for the worse in 2012. Recently adopted changes in the Copyright Law limited the amount of compensation for use of IPR and exempted from payment reproduction of musical artworks in small shops. Although these amendments were put forward as a measure against the parafiscal burden for SME’s, they represent a violation of ratified international treaties, as well as weakening Serbia’s position for EU harmonization in this field.
On a more positive side, at the 10th IPR Conference the Minister of Justice gave a commitment to address the problem of judicial protection of IP rights by concentration and centralization of IP cases to specialized courts through amendments to the law on the court network in Serbia..
In 2011, the IPR Committee received the first results of its continuous advocacy efforts undertaken in the past few years, aimed at better IPR protection and prevention of piracy. On July 14, the Serbian Parliament adopted an Optical Discs Law that regulates production and trade of optical discs and represents one of preconditions for Serbia’s WTO accession. Moreover, the Committee took an active part in the public discussion on the Intellectual Property Development Strategy for the period 2011 to 2015, adopted by the Serbian Government in June. This was especially important since the Strategy represents an IPR development instrument, which sets particular implementation measures that Serbia has to enforce, including these from the IPR Committee agenda: suppression and sanctioning of IPR infringements, thelegal and institutional basis of the IPR protection and theeconomic consequences of IPR enforcement.
The Committee’s activities toward raising awareness of theimportance of IPR regulations implementation were also carried out through theorganization of two special IPR events, a Training seminar on IPR issues for Judges and Prosecutors and the 9th Annual IPR Conference.
Over the past year, the IPR Committee was actively involved in activities that accomplished its annual goals. Key initiatives were the completion of a legal framework for intellectual property protection and the adoption of the Optical Discs Law (ODL), which is important for reducing physical piracy as well as a condition for meeting World Trade Organization’s (WTO) accession requirements. AmCham advocated for this issue at the April meeting with the Prime Minister and at National Competiveness Council meetings, following which the first Draft was released. In December, representatives of the IPR Committee participated in a public discussion on the Draft ODL law and provided several technical suggestions for improvement of the text.
During 2010, IPR Committee members, in cooperation with the Business Software Alliance (BSA), conducted two training series for the Tax Administration assisting them in their work of fighting software piracy. Recognizing the specific skills necessary, at the very end of 2010, the Tax Administration established a separate department responsible for checking licensed software.
In late December, the chairman of the IPR Committee, Vuk Pribić, and IPR Steering Committee member Dragomir Kojić joined Minister of Trade and Services Slobodan Milosavljević and Charge d’ Affairs of the US Embassy Earl Litzenberger to promote the destruction and recycling of 120,000 pirated CDs seized during the regular work of the Market Inspection. Boosting the promotional activities of the authorities in charge of IPR enforcement was recognized as one of the essential measures for increasing preventive activities for IPR-related theft at the AmCham 8th IPR Conference.
Moreover, in November, the Intellectual Property Office published the draft Strategy for Development of Intellectual Property Protection, which encompasses all key suggestions of the IPR Committee made at the last IPR Conference..