Executive Briefing : Fighting Counterfeiting and Piracy: A call for a dialogue
Embassy of France, May 9, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Panelists,
distinguished members of the intellectual property community,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you today to participate in this Executive Briefing, “Fighting Counterfeiting and Piracy: A call for a dialogue”.
And it is a true honor for the French Embassy to host this event, organized in a very professional way by the think thank Premier Cercle, in collaboration with the Economic Department of our Embassy. Thank you.
Ambassador Miriam Sapiro, I can’t thank you enough for being here with us today, you are such a distinguished voice of the Trade community in the US.
I would also like to welcome Jayme White, Staff Director in the Senate Trade Subcommittee, who has kindly accepted to give us a Congressional perspective on very sensitive issues relating to Intellectual Property.
Last but not least, let me add a special word of welcome to Yves Lapierre, President of the French Intellectual Property National Institute, the INPI, who will be closing today’s event. It is a privilege to have you and your colleague with us today.
Innovation is number 1, number 2 and number 3 priority in France and so it should come as no surprise that Intellectual property is an issue of the greatest importance. An issue where France and the US have, like in many other areas, many common views.
Let me illustrate this proximity of interests with a quick perspective on three issues today:
First, the protection of Intellectual Property is a crucial tool to foster innovation and contributes in a major way to economic growth in our two countries.
Patents, trademarks and copyrights are indeed the principal means to protect innovation and to sustain economic growth.
A recent report released by the US Department of Commerce shows how important IP protection is for the American economy: IP intensive industries contribute to almost 35% of US GDP and support 40 Million jobs in the US.
Industries relying on Intellectual Property actually grow faster and stronger in the US as in France, offering better jobs.
Let me give you two figures: more than 16 000 new patent applications were filled in France in 2010 and INPI delivered almost 10 000 new patents. This means at least two things: that France innovates and that France protects creativity.
France and United States are both strongly committed to innovation through the protection of IP. In my country, major industries strongly rely on IP protection: we have the first pharmaceutical industry in Europe and the third largest in the world. Aerospace, Chemicals industry, IT industry in France are among the strongest in Europe and in the world. Our companies must enjoy and benefit from a strong protection under our laws and enforcement tools in order to develop in Europe and internationally.
Beyond IP protection, France has engaged an unprecedented effort to promote innovation (innovative clusters, R & D tax credit, investment for the future program). All serve the same purpose: to strengthen the competitiveness of businesses in France and to stimulate innovation in strategic sectors. Among all these decisions, let me emphasize the recent creation of “France Brevets”, which is the first investment fund fully dedicated to patents promotion and monetization in Europe.
“France Brevets” is a €100 million investment fund with primary objective to enable research centers, as well as private companies to exploit their patents more effectively on an international scale, primarily through the operation of patent clusters for licensing purposes, and by promoting cross-fertilization in the management of public and private-sector patents.
As you can see, innovation is the top priority in my country and fosters a booming entrepreneurship. And I know how high it is in the priorities of the American administration too.
In time of crisis and of fierce international competition, IP is a critical element of our competitiveness: we need to make sure that our technological edge is protected against theft and misappropriation.
This leads me to a second point, regarding the challenges faced by IP rights holders today.
Let’s face it, these challenges are numerous:
IP theft and counterfeiting stay a major threat for our companies ;
Forced technological transfers become a growing concern ;
Discriminatory policies favoring local innovation (known as “indigenous innovation”) spur here and there ;
Technological progress has changed the nature of the threat, in particular with the development of Internet Piracy.
We are today confronted to a global economy, where innovation and harmonization of intellectual property laws must be our priority in order to promote economic growth.
Ambassador Sapiro, I know how much work you put in opening markets for your companies and securing their legal environment. Our administrations have worked very closely during the ACTA negotiations and we hope the agreement will be cleared both by the European Court of Justice and the European Parliament, though some concerns have been expressed by stakeholders.
France has a long history and specificity in protecting our creations and more particularly copyright. The recent debate over SOPA and PIPA in the United States took place in France a couple of years ago: HADOPI is a balanced approach which has delivered some very valuable results. Protecting copyright while preserving a free flow of information on the Internet is especially complex but I have no doubt that the United States will find their way.
Last but not least, let me acknowledge the extraordinary cooperation between our Custom’s authorities on the field.
The US CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and French Customs exchange information and intelligence on a daily basis. It is of the utmost importance for the success of their operations. Several joint control operations have been led in order to seize counterfeited products: they have proved to be a huge success.
Our customs authorities also collaborate on Cybercrime: French customs have now a new unit, “CyberDouane”, specialized in tracking infringement to IP rights on the Internet. The sharing of information and experience is key to success.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude by thanking each one of you for your commitment to this issue. I trust you will enjoy this opportunity to exchange your knowledge and experiences on this very important matter.
Thank you for your attention.