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INTERPOL Washington

Friday, April 26, 2013

INTERPOL Washington highlights support to international counterfeiting crackdowns in observation of World Intellectual Property Day

WASHINGTON - INTERPOL Washington joined the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), international associations, and government officials around the world Friday in celebrating World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. World IP Day was started by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); every year, it is celebrated on April 26th to promote the role of intellectual property in innovation and creativity.

“Tremendous international partnerships have been forged in the name of intellectual property theft enforcement,” said INTERPOL Washington Director Shawn Bray. “Intellectual property theft damages the global economy and helps fund international organized crime. INTERPOL Washington will continue to support the ongoing efforts of the IPR Center and INTERPOL.”

According to experts at the IPR Center, counterfeiters have become increasingly sophisticated over the last few years and coordination between federal and international partners has become a priority in the fight against IP theft. The IPR Center now has 21 member agencies, including INTERPOL, Europol and international partners in Mexico and Canada. In 2012, 72 percent of the counterfeit seizures by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) originated in China. Additionally, another 13 percent were believed to have been transshipped from China through Hong Kong and Singapore making China responsible for 85 percent of the counterfeit products entering the United States. During that same year, HSI and CBP seized goods worth more than $850 million in manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP).

Increased coordination between IPR Center partners and foreign customs organizations has yielded substantial results in the last year, including:

  • In February, Paraguayan officials seized more than $19 million in counterfeit watches, eyewear memory devices and other items that individuals were attempting to smuggle out of the country. The counterfeit goods were packaged in air cargo boxes, ready for departure from the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asuncion, Paraguay.
  • In January, Korean Intellectual Property Office officials seized 7,671 pieces of luxury brand jewelry including brooches, necklaces, earrings, and rings. The items had an estimated MSRP of more than $3.1 million. As a result of the seizure, Korean officials arrested one Korean national for possession and distribution of counterfeit merchandise.
  • In December 2012, HSI Colombia and the Colombian Police's Transnational Criminal Investigation Unit executed 14 search warrants and arrested 11 individuals involved in the smuggling and distribution of counterfeit, stolen or altered medications. The medications, which included high priced specialized drugs such as cancer treatments, were smuggled into Colombia from Venezuela.

WIPO is the United Nations agency dedicated to the use of intellectual property such as patents, copyrights and trademarks as a means of stimulating innovation and creativity. Their mission is to promote innovation and creativity for the economic, social and cultural development of all countries through a balanced and effective international intellectual property system.

WIPO's member states designated April 26 - the day that the WIPO Convention came into force in 1970 - as World IP Day with the aim of increasing understanding of IP. Since then, World IP Day has offered a unique opportunity to discuss the importance of IP and to drive technological innovation that helps shape our world. The theme for this year's World IP Day focuses on the next generation of creativity.

The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting, piracy and commercial trade fraud. With close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects public health and safety and the U.S. economy.