Drumming up support for Asean project on protecting intellectual property rights

By Narissa Noor bb25 March 2010

The issue of the protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) was once again the forefront of discussions at the Attorney General’s Chambers, where talks were held yesterday between the Project Director of “The Asean Project On The Protection of Intellectual Property Rights” (ECAP III), Stephan Passeri, and representatives of relevant government agencies and stakeholders.

In October 2009, the European Commission and the Asean Secretary General signed a Financing Agreement for the implementation of the ECAP III and since its establishment in 1993, the ECAP has contributed substantially to the development of intellectual property in Asean countries.

The ECAP III, however, will include all 10 Asean member states in the hopes of enhancing regional integration by strengthening institutional capacity and legal and administrative framework for protecting IPRs in the region.

The 5.1-million-euro project will comprise 4.5 million euros contributed by the EC, and 600,000 euros by the European Patent Office (EPO), for an implementation period of four years to be handled by the EPO.

The project is a follow-up to ECAP and ECAP II and addresses the challenges of furthering regional harmonisation and long-term capacity building issues relating to Intellectual Property (IP) within Asean countries.

The programme, which is aimed at furthering the integration of Asean countries into the global economy and world trading system to promote economic growth and reduce poverty in the region, will be implemented by a Project Management Team based in Bangkok and hosted by the Department of Intellectual Property under the Thai Ministry of Commerce.

According to a press release, the objectives of this project are to “further harmonise and upgrade systems for IP creation, protection, administration and enforcement in Asean, in line with the international IP standards and the IPR Action Plan” and to “take account of a proposed Free Trade Agreement with the European Union”.

According to the press release, the five project components of the ECAP III that would benefit the participating countries are as follows:

* Capacity building and regional cooperation for IP enforcement and regulation in Asean,

* Improving the legal context and adminis-tration of IPRs in Asean countries harmonised with international and regional commitments to IP standards,

* Using IP as a tool for economic development and integration in Asean,

* Structured expansion of IP education, training and research institutions and programmes within a common Asean-wide regional network, and;

* Enhanced capacity of ASEC to support, monitor and coordinate regional policies and work streams on IP including support to Asean institution building

The meeting was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Health, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, the Brunei Economic Development Board, the Royal Brunei Police Force and the Department of Economic Planning & Development.

Brunei’s Attorney General, Datin Paduka Hjh Hayati binti Pehin Orang Kaya Shahbandar Dato Seri Paduka Hj Mohd Salleh, emphasised the importance of IP as a tool for economic development during the opening of the recent Legal Year and the Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s recent official IP Policy launching ceremony.

In her address at the Legal Year last month, the attorney-general raised the need for a government agency or other suitable institution to protect IPRs, which would serve to formulate IP policies and laws.

“Strong protection and enforcement of IP rights are critical components for economic growth and development. IP theft kills innovation and creativity,” she said.

She added that it was time for Brunei to establish a lead government agency or other suitable institution, to formulate policies akin to our national and international obligation tasked with the role to advise on and administer laws, to promote Intellectual Property awareness and infrastructure to facilitate development of IP in Brunei and serve as IP regulator and policy advisor.