DUBAI: Director of Dubai Customs Ahmed Mahboob Musabih has called for introducing innovative smart initiatives to step up protection of intellectual property rights through advanced anti-counterfeit IT solutions, which support the UAE’s steadfast advancement into fully smart government services across all public entities and copes with Dubai’s ongoing transformation into the world’s smartest city.
Addressing the 4th Conference on the Fight Against Intellectual Property Crime, hosted the other day in Dubai jointly by the Emirates Intellectual Property Association (EIPA) and International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), Ahmed Mahboob said: “The UAE has achieved remarkable progress in protecting intellectual property rights; efforts of all governmental and local authorities to combat commercial fraud, counterfeiting and piracy have paid off. We are all required to complete these efforts to obtain best results through cooperation, coordination and opening channels for exchanging information. By fully partnering with the private sector, we fill all the gaps through which counterfeit and pirated products may sneak into local markets”.
“We work diligently to protect the society from the dangers of these products, boost the national economy by providing the best competitive environment that secures businesses of manufacturers and traders and protect consumers from health and environmental damages caused by counterfeit products.”
Mahboob looked forward that the conference sessions discussing “Intellectual Property Protection Under the Umbrella of Smart Governments” would come up with the best outcomes and recommendations to boost the UAE’s global efforts and position in relation to IPR protection, especially under the country’s aim to stimulate the spirit of creativity and reach the highest level of innovation in the governmental work, guided by the National Innovation Strategy launched days ago by UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
He hailed the incredible efforts of EIPA and Interpol in raising IPR awareness and organizing such an important conference, which is a good opportunity for sharing ideas and expertise, coordinating efforts among all participants, and getting introduced to various experiences to help achieve the best results in terms of safeguarding the society against the perils of counterfeiting.
“The importance of intellectual property rights’ protection increases greatly in the light of international economic changes, and the acceleration of freeing the international trade by removing barriers that hinder the movement of goods between countries all over the world. Maintaining the rights of manufacturers and protecting consumers are the top international priority to establish healthy investment environment that guarantees combating commercial fraud, counterfeiting and piracy, protects creativity and innovation, and assures investors that the money they spent to develop their products and trademarks is in place and not threatened by counterfeit products. These counterfeit products don’t only cause harm and losses for the interests of manufacturers, but also harm the consumers and societies in general, due to their dangerous effects on security, health, economy and environment,” he said.
Ahmed Mahboob went on to say: “In Dubai Customs, we have made significant progress in this area, as we developed the “Risk Engine” system to diagnose risks early before shipments arrive, including the potential risks of shipments that may include counterfeit materials, through analyzing customs data by competent officials and smart systems. By associating the Engine with Dubai Customs’ Advanced Container Scanning System, we check those suspicious activities and take the necessary actions and legal procedures that guarantee reserving the rights of manufacturers and trademark owners and deter violators.”
Mahboob affirmed that “Dubai Customs is extremely keen on effectively countering the risks of intellectual property rights’ infringements by building its staff capacities. Dubai Customs employees regularly take part in intensive training courses and specialized workshops to acquire the skills and experiences that enable them to spot counterfeit products. Dubai Customs made 277 seizures of IPR infringing goods, valued at AED 28 million during the first nine months of 2014. More than 950 seizures of IPR infringing goods took place between 2011 to 2013, with a value exceeding AED 65 million.”
He said: “Our work at Dubai Customs is guided by the vision of UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum that highlights the necessity of working on enhancing the local investment environment to boost the UAE’s competitiveness, and support its progression towards achieving top ranks in the Global Competitiveness Index, after impressively scoring the 12th rank in the Global Competitiveness Report issued by World Economic Forum (WEF) 2014. We endeavor towards realizing the highest levels of integration with ministries and governmental departments in the field of intellectual property rights’ protection, through opening the channels of continuous cooperation and coordination between all competent governmental authorities.”
In 2006, he added, Dubai Customs took the initiative to establish a unified team to coordinate between governmental authorities in relation to intellectual property rights’ protection. This team consists of 12 local and federal government authorities, as their representatives periodically meet to discuss and develop mechanisms for coordination and exchanging information and experiences, to reach the best governmental performance level in IP protection.
“Moreover, Dubai Customs pays utmost attention to coordinating the governmental efforts in IPR protection, through jointly holding specialized courses and workshops in ministries and governmental departments to enhance the awareness level of counterfeit products’ risks in the community, as well as cooperating in providing continuous training courses for specialized cadres on spotting such products. During 2014, we held 6 workshops so far, where advanced training was provided to participating inspectors and employees from ministries and government departments. Furthermore, we continue delivering specialized lectures to increase the awareness of all segments in society of intellectual property rights. This effort is yearly crowned with organizing Dubai Customs’ Intellectual Property Award for school and university students. Dubai Customs launched the 8th edition of the Award for the academic year 2014-2015. Winners will be honoured in Dubai Customs’ celebration of the World Intellectual Property Day next April,” Mahboob noted.
Since the first launch of the Award in 2007, 111 schools from all across the UAE joined in. The number of school students who participated in workgroups to win the Award is 1665 students. The number of universities that took part in the competition for three consecutive editions (from 2010 to 2012) is 16 universities, and the number of students who participated in workgroups to win the Award is 180 students.
“Working with the private sector for protecting intellectual property rights has a growing importance in the light of the surge in international counterfeiting and forging of trademarks. Thus, we, in Dubai Customs, are keen on fostering the partnership and coordinating efforts with the private sector to combat counterfeit goods. In this regard, we launched “Thanks For Your Support” initiative to honour trademark owners, law firms and trademark registration offices for their continuous communication and cooperation with Dubai Customs. In addition, we arrange periodic meetings with them, to keep abreast of all their needs and secure the best protection for their trademarks,” Ahmed Mahboob continued.
Dubai Customs contributed a whole workshop to the conference programme. The workshop that brought together global companies and trademark owners comprised anti-counterfeit training sessions for Customs and government staff delivered by HP experts and Sony Mobile Communications’ legal advisor. Topics covered in the workshops included TV piracy in the Arab World , Strategy Towards Countering Counterfeit Medicines, and Detection of Precious Metals and Fake Jewellery.