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    Inside Views
    Inside Views: Global Public-Private Partnerships Against IP Crimes: How Interpol Avoided The Failures Of WCO And WHO

    Published on 24 April 2013 @ 10:32 pm

    Disclaimer: the views expressed in this column are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors.

    Intellectual Property Watch

    By Christopher J. Paun

    Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are often used as a way of increasing public policy options by tapping into private sector resources. This occurs also in the field of intellectual property. There are several examples of Global PPPs against IP crimes – some more successful than others. Some prominent failures received a lot of attention when PPP activities were stopped following controversy about global IP policy.

    One example is the SECURE partnership of the Brussels-based World Customs Organization (WCO). After the idea of an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was presented at the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Group of Eight (G8), the WCO tried to position itself as the organisation that could administer ACTA or at least parts of it. For that purpose, the WCO drafted Standards Employed by Customs for Uniform Rights Enforcement (SECURE) together with the private sector in the SECURE Group. But this PPP was eventually stopped after having been accused of undue private sector influence and of going too far beyond the existing TRIPS standards [referring to the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights].

    Another example of a PPP failure is the International Medical Products Anti‑Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT) of the World Health Organization (WHO). It came to a halt after it was accused by the Brazilian ambassador at the World Health Assembly of “waging a war against generic medicines”. But IMPACT was not a complete failure. The enforcement working group within IMPACT continued its work under the management of Interpol. In 2012, its activities involved the participation of 100 countries and led to the seizure of about 3.75 million pills, the shutting down of about 18,000 illegal online pharmacy websites, and to investigations against at least 80 individuals. Interpol is currently expanding its activities against counterfeit medicines even further. To do so, Interpol receives 4.5 million EUR based on a PPP with 29 pharmaceutical companies.

    Interpol is involved in several PPPs against IP crimes, not only against counterfeit medicines. As a result of these partnerships, law enforcement officers around the world are trained by security professionals from the private sector, IP criminals are arrested, and tons of counterfeit products are seized. Interpol has focused on activities that support the enforcement of existing rights and stayed away from drafting any new legislative proposals or setting new standards. It has thus avoided the kind of political conflict that stopped WCO SECURE and WHO IMPACT. Interpol presents its work as purely technical and non-political, but its activities have had an effect on IP protection through the allocation of resources to IP crime fighting. Conflicts about the allocation of resources are avoided as those resources are contributed on a voluntary basis from public and private actors. Thus, the PPPs make policies feasible that would otherwise be too costly.

    A comparison of global PPPs against IP crimes that have succeeded and failed suggests that PPPs are especially good at mobilizing private sector resources for the support of existing public policies. This is especially useful if public actors made a decision for a policy without having allocated adequate resources for its execution. Financial resources as well as information from the private sector may support the execution of the public policies. Giving advice within a PPP that suggests a public policy change has also not been a problem. However, it has been problematic if such advice is not only given, but if the PPP acts as a decision-making body and adopts this advice through legislative proposals or recommended standards. This has resulted in significant opposition against PPP activities at the World Customs Organization and at the World Health Organization. Apparently, PPPs are not good for making decisions about public policies prior to those made by the appropriate public decision-making bodies, even if those decisions are non-binding.

    This is one of several results of my recently published doctoral thesis about transnational PPPs against IP crimes. The study provides a comprehensive survey of all PPP activities against IP crimes of Interpol, the WCO, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the WHO. Examples of PPPs covered by the study are the Interpol IP Crime Action Group, Operation Jupiter, the Database on International Intellectual Property, the WCO IPR Strategic Group, the WCO Interface Public-Members, the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement, and the Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy. The entire study is available for free via download from the State and University Library Bremen, Germany: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:gbv:46-00103026-15


    Dr. Christopher Paun was PhD fellow and university lecturer at the University of Bremen, Germany. In this capacity he conducted research on global public-private partnerships against intellectual property crimes and was a member of the German delegation to the Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Since 2011 Christopher Paun has worked in the German parliament as senior advisor on international affairs for Member of Parliament Dr. Rainer Stinner, the foreign affairs spokesperson of the FDP parliamentary group.

     


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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