As the region's economies shift into higher-value industries that require innovation and creativity, copyright protection in Asia will likely improve, industry experts said Aug. 21 at the Global Forum on Intellectual Property an industry forum held in Singapore.
"When you are going to progress from just becoming cheap manufacturers, you need high-tech industries and you need to put money into research, and IP progressively becomes even more and more important," said Sir Hugh Laddie, a former British senior patent judge.
"Asia is witnessing an exceptional growth in IP filings, as rising incomes and foreign direct investments have made the region a major market and production center," Singapore's law minister S. Jayakumar said. "They are increasingly recognizing the value of such intangible assets, whether for revenue potential or access to markets and capital."
Richard Heath, Unilever's global anti-counterfeiting counsel, said governments in the region have demonstrated they want to tackle copyright infringements. "There's been a marked shift in recent years... it used to be a local problem in a local country to being a major multinational problem organized by, in many cases, criminal gangs with very sophisticated supply chains."
"We have got a lot of catching up to do in terms of getting on top of the problem but I think the key is cooperation between governments and between the public and private sectors," Heath added.
Education is also a key weapon in the battle against intellectual piracy, said David Llewelyn, director of the Intellectual Property Academy in Singapore. "Because you can't see it, what they don't realize is that stealing somebody's copyright or stealing somebody's product and copying it is just as much theft as stealing a CD from a shop."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006