The need to have a truly global response to dangers posed by counterfeit goods is the focus of the fifth International Law Enforcement Intellectual Property (IP) Crime Conference which opened today.
The three-day conference brings together more than 450 specialist IP crime investigators, prosecutors and experts from 52 countries representing both the public and private sectors. The event is co-hosted by Interpol, Europol and Spain's Cuerpo Nacional de Policía, in partnership with Underwriters Laboratories.
Key items on the conference agenda will include the nature and extent of transnational organised intellectual property crime, extending integrated enforcement strategies on a global level, enhancing public-private partnerships, as well as training and capacity building.
Of particular concern to delegates is how to ensure links between criminal networks and conspiracies in one country can quickly be identified and used by police and customs officials to disrupt the supply chain in other countries and regions of the world. In this respect, the conference's operational workshop discussions will provide a platform for better and more productive cooperation on a national, regional and global level.
Spain's Secretary of Homeland Security, Justo Tomás Zambrana Pineda, highlighted at the opening ceremony Spain's efforts against IP crime: "The Spanish security forces have set up special units to combat this type of crime and, in recent years, have carried out a large number of operations. Last year, 3400 crimes of this type were reported and 3500 arrests were made. In all, items worth a total of some EUR 9.7 million were recovered."
Describing counterfeiting as a "well organised and unrelenting criminal activity," Interpol President Khoo Boon Hui said that "these criminals systematically manufacture and distribute counterfeit and pirated goods worldwide without any compassion regardless of the effect their actions have on the health and safety of often unknowing consumers." Despite this, the Interpol President said that the international community had made significant investigative inroads into these gangs and the challenge now was to extend this success everywhere.
Michel Quillé, Deputy Director at Europol, said: "A coordinated international approach to tackling intellectual property crime is vital, as it is becoming more and more widespread and dangerous to ordinary citizens. We are increasingly identifying normal goods such as food and drink products, pharmaceuticals, machinery and tools that have been counterfeited and produced by unscrupulous organised criminal groups. Criminals who are only interested in their profit margins and have no respect for the end users, who can end up seriously harmed by the sub-standard products".
"Whether in the public or private sectors, we all have a role to play as we continue to adapt to the shifting needs and priorities of combating IP crime in this global marketplace," said Keith Williams, the President and CEO of Underwriters Laboratories which is sponsoring the conference and earlier this year helped launch the Interpol-led International IP Crime Investigators College, an online, leading-edge training resource for IP crime investigators around the world. "The combined experiences and expertise of law enforcement gathered here in Madrid can no doubt translate into meaningful action and solution-driven initiatives that will help advance the standard for what we now consider effective IP crime enforcement."
Notable IP crime professionals from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East will each present their perspective on investigative techniques used in their countries which have proven invaluable and could be equally applicable in other market places.
Keynote addresses will be made by a number of leaders in the field including Vincent Van Quickenborne, Minister of Economic Affairs, Belgium; Giovanni Kessler, Director General, European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF); Lanny A. Breuer, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice; and Gao Feng, Deputy Director General, Economic Crime Investigation Department, Ministry of Public Security, China.