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Regional IP theft on the up: report

THE UAE is among the top ten countries in the world in terms of intellectual property (IP) violations, Arabian Business can reveal. IP theft includes trademark infringement and breach of copyright.

THE UAE is among the top ten countries in the world in terms of intellectual property (IP) violations, Arabian Business can reveal. IP theft includes trademark infringement and breach of copyright.

Last month, US$1.1 million worth of IP-related losses were reported in the UAE alone, with the country ranking eighth globally in terms of the countries reporting IP violations.

Kuwait followed close behind the UAE in ninth with US$0.7 million in losses, according to Canada-based Gieschen Consultancy’s Security Counterfeit Intelligence Report. The USA topped the list with US$87 million-worth of violations.

The study is based on worldwide counterfeit enforcement activity such as investigations, raids, seizures, arrests, charges, convictions, sentences, civil litigation and public announcements. More than 291 incidents valued at US$624 million were analysed from 46 countries with IP theft reaching its highest level this year – representing 42% of all counterfeiting activity.

The most popular counterfeited brands were Nike, Microsoft, Louis Vuitton, Adidas and Prada. Meanwhile, currency, DVDs, cheques, drugs and software were the top items being forged with the internet proving to be the ideal marketplace for counterfeit goods.

“The market for fake and bogus goods is growing with the help of the internet. Nearly 13% of all enforcement activity for June was directed towards spam, internet auctions, retail sites and other internet activities, which sell or distribute counterfeit and pirated items,” Glen Gieschen, managing director of Gieschen Consultancy told Arabian Business. “Other venues such as internet chat rooms and private forums are also being used by criminals and terrorists to provide information regarding manufacturing techniques and to distribute high-value items such as fake ID (passports, drivers licences, and birth certificates). With an increase in internet users in both developed and developing regions, in particular the Middle East and Asia, the potential market for these items is expanding rapidly,” he added.

Despite the losses, the UAE and Kuwait are also among the top 20 countries pursuing all forms of counterfeiting and pirate activity — including IP, document and identification fraud. Last month, the UAE made two seizures, while Kuwait made one. In terms of combating piracy the Philippines leads the way with seven seizures, worth a total of US$501 million.

Last month the most popular items to counterfeit were financial instruments (118 incidents worth US$509 million), entertainment and software products (66 incidents worth US$91 million), identification (31 incidents), clothing and accessories (30 incidents worth US$8.6 million) and other documents (18 incidents worth US$1.2 million).

Gieschen Consultancy, provides counterfeit intelligence analysis and security research relating to documents, products and intellectual property. The group also educates clients regarding counterfeiting issues, and assists in developing anti-counterfeiting, brand protection and enforcement solutions.

The report comes on the back of recently released statistics by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which show that software piracy is leading to growing losses around the Middle East. Regional losses due to illegal copying of software grew to US$1.2 billion in 2004 from under US$1 billion in 2003.

Software piracy levels in the region have “more or less remained stagnant” with most countries having only succeeded in reducing piracy marginally according to the BSA report. The industry study revealed that the region has an average piracy rate of 58% with Kuwait at 68%, Oman at 64% and the UAE on 34%.

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