Japan and the United States have agreed to get working on creating an international convention to prevent the spread of illegally copied products by holding a meeting with several interested countries this fall, government officials said Saturday.
Tokyo and Washington have been calling on Switzerland, Britain, France, Germany, South Korea and Singapore to join the process, which was originally proposed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during last year’s Group of Eight summit.
Japanese diplomats raised the topic with their Swiss counterparts late last month during a study group session on a bilateral free-trade agreement and received a positive response, according to the officials.
Japan aims to have the international convention in place when it hosts the G8 meetings in 2008, they said.
The Japanese manufacturing industry, Swiss watch makers, American filmmakers and software companies, and French designer goods producers are among those affected by the global spread of pirated items.
According to Chinese government statistics, the market there for fake items was estimated at about 3 trillion yen in 2003. The Japan Patent Office projected in 2004 that damage inflicted on Japanese companies by Chinese counterfeit goods had reached 9.3 trillion yen.
Proceeds from trade in such items are believed to be sources of funding for crime and terrorist organizations worldwide.
Japan and the United States have already drafted their initial conceptions of the international treaty, which would ban not only import but also export and transshipment of illegally copied and fake items, the officials said.
The two countries also seek criminal liability for infringement of intellectual property rights and the complete destruction of confiscated goods to block their re-entry to the market.
Washington says the agreement should be a “gold standard” for intellectual property right protection and that initial members should be the countries which already have strong enforcement capabilities, the officials said.
The U.S. is also proposing setting up specialized intellectual property police, prosecutors and courts in its plan for the treaty, they said.
Germany and France are in favor of including China and Russia at an early stage. Japan and the U.S., however, fear their participation could drag down the entire process.
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