On November 9th, 2011, more than 100 representatives of Serbian authorities, AmCham member companies and the media attended AmCham’s 9th Annual IPR Conference in Kovilovo. Participants almost unanimously agreed that impressive progress has been made in IPR regulatory area since last year, but that adequate enforcement continues to remain a major problem.
Please click here to access a photo gallery.
During the opening ceremony, participants were addressed by Gordana Pualić, State Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Mary Warlick,
Ambassador Warlick acknowledged the achievements of the Serbian authorities in IPR protection, especially highlighting the importance of the adoption of the Optical Discs Law, the Law on Protection of Business Secrets and a comprehensive Strategy for intellectual property development to 2015. She also pointed out that inadequate IPR protection discourages investment, especially in job-creating industries, adding that enforcement is a challenge not only for Serbia but also for many other countries. Since piracy and other IPR infringements are costing these countries billions of dollars, the Ambassador emphasized that only cooperation among all the authorities involved can help to overcome these problems.
Mr. Martins commended Serbia’s recent accession to the EU Patent Organization as well as improvements made in the regulatory area. However, he emphasized that effective protection of IPR is a prerogative for successful integration of Serbia into the EU as well as sustainable economic development of the country.
Mr. Brefort stressed that IPR protection is a very important aspect of international trade, as well as a precondition for Serbia’s WTO accession. He pointed out the key role of protection of IP rights in development of innovative technologies and offered World Bank assistance in measuring the State’s lost revenues due to IPR infringement.
Ms. Todorović commented on requirements necessary for WTO accession, emphasizing that IPR protection represents almost 1/3 of Serbia’s accession report and that once the country was a member of the WTO Serbian implementation would be under constant monitoring.
Three panel discussions took place involving state authorities in charge of implementation of IPR regulations: the Ministry of Finance, the Tax and Custom Administration, Market Inspection, the Ministry of the Interior and representatives of the judiciary and the Intellectual Property Office. After several rounds of discussions, participants came to the following conclusions of the Conference:
Progress made since last year:
- Legislative framework completed
· Optical Discs Law adopted
· Law on Protection of Business Secrets adopted
- Improved function of the Tax Administration – including formation of a Special Unit for the Control of Software Legality within the legal entities
- A strategy of Intellectual Property Development for 2011 to 2015 was adopted
Judiciary and legislature:
- Concentration of territorial jurisdiction of courts in several centersleading to better specialization of judges on IPR issues.
- A lower threshold for qualification as high tech crime cases, as the current level prevents a number of cases from being handled by the relevant specialized authorities.
- A stricter penal policy, especially for repeat offenders. Existing penal policy, on one hand, encourages IPR infringements, as most offenders are sentenced to probation, while on the other hand it is discouraging for the police, as their efforts are seen to be in some ways futile.
Other state authorities:
- Reduction of the administrative burden for preparation of evidence in high tech cases– for example, in order to determine whether there has been a violation of IPR law, police have to check and record every single seized item (for example over 2000 discs) within 48hrs, which sometimes is almost impossible.
- Improvement of access to information on seized goods in order to increase awareness of the rightful holders and reduce storage costs, such as the launching of a Customs Administration data bases on seized goods that would be accessible to both custom officers and trademark holders.
- Development of regional cooperation.
- Better coordination of state authorities in charge of IPR protection via a permanent coordination authority (as provided by the IPR Strategy) or otherwise.
- Creation of standardized, uniform registry and statistical processingof data for all state authorities, with regard to the sanctioning of infringements of intellectual property rights, as provided by the Strategy.
AmCham kindly thanks JTI and Microsoft for sponsoring this 9th Annual IPR Conference.