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Underscoring the need for Asian economies to protect intellectual property rights and counter counterfeits with their ever-growing borderless economic activities, delegates from 22 countries assembled Monday in Tokyo for a three-day forum on the issues.The forum, the second of its kind following one last year, is being sponsored by Japan as part of its financial contribution to the World Intellectual Property Organization.Referring to current economic crises in Asia in his opening address, Kaoru Yosano, minister of international trade and industry, urged participants to further promote innovative activities by giving more adequate protection to intellectual property rights, because “intellectual property boosts national wealth.”To this end, Yosano said, “Japan will be ready to continue to offer assistance to Asian countries in the implementation in 2000” of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement, which he said includes training of judicial and regulatory officials from other Asian economies.Effective in 2000, international rules will be established concerning intellectual property rights under the World Trade Organization, with member economies implementing the accord.Concerning the TRIPS agreement, developed and developing countries are at odds whether to make foodstuffs and medical products subject to patents. In addition, the United States insists that patents should be given to those who first make an invention, while Japan and Europe maintain that those who first make an application should be given priority.The participants were to issue a joint declaration Wednesday specifying ways for economies in the region to cooperate in dealing with counterfeits, promote information networks among their intellectual property offices and enforcement authorities, and agree to join patent-related international pacts, officials of the Japanese Patent Office said.

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