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The Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy is convened by a unique public-private partnership with leaders from INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Chamber of Commerce/BASCAP initiative (ICC/BASCAP) and the International Trademark Association (INTA).

In early 2004, the need to address the rapidly growing global problem of counterfeiting and piracy had emerged as a key priority for national governments and intergovernmental organizations concerned about the myriad adverse costs to social welfare and economic development that was resulting from the rampant theft of intellectual property. Notably, trade in counterfeit goods was rising dramatically worldwide and had spread to almost every conceivable type of product. Billions of dollars in revenues were being lost to the black economy. Counterfeit drugs were putting lives at risk. And there was growing evidence that transnational organized crime networks were using profits from trade in counterfeit and pirated goods to fund their activities.

It was clear that better strategies – based on more effective cooperation between stakeholders at national and international level – were needed to combat the multiple threats posed by this damaging trade. To this end, the first Congress was convened by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and INTERPOL with the support of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The three intergovernmental organizations, each with a wealth of experience in different aspects of combating counterfeiting and piracy, called together representatives from governments, industry and enforcement agencies. Together they determined to pool their forces with the objectives of pushing the fight against counterfeiting and piracy up the global political and business agenda; of establishing a high level public-private partnership to pursue collective action; and of generating conditions which would lead to greater investment of human and financial resources in enforcement measures. Their overall goal was to improve the understanding of the full range and extent of these costs so as to assist member governments confronting decisions on how investments in IP protection (through legislation and regulatory enforcement) are related to and can improve other social and development priorities, such as economic development, employment, tax base, consumer health and safety, technology transfer, law enforcement and fighting organized crime. Their resolve laid the foundations for a global process, now approaching its fourth year.

A Steering Group was established with key partner organizations from the Intergovernmental Organizations and the global business community in order to build the global public-private partnership and to ensure that recommendations were carried through.

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