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December 14th, 2011 WW Staff | NikeLeaks Cables: Africa and Middle East
 

Kuwait: GOK AND CORPORATIONS HOST FIRST-EVER TRAINING SESSIONS TO COMBAT COUNTERFEITING

     
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Reference ID: 09KUWAIT1060
Created: 2009-11-09 12:28
Released: 2011-08-30 01:44
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Origin: Embassy Kuwait

VZCZCXRO3219
RR RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHKU #1060/01 3131228
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091228Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4160
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 001060

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ARP; EEB/IPE; STATE FOR JASON BUNTIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KIPR, EIND, EINT, ETRD, KU
SUBJECT: GOK AND CORPORATIONS HOST FIRST-EVER TRAINING
SESSIONS TO COMBAT COUNTERFEITING

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On October 26 and 27, Kuwait's General
Administration for Customs held its first-ever training
sessions for customs inspectors designed to combat trade in
counterfeit goods in collaboration with the Ministry of
Commerce, the Brand Owners Protection Group, and
American-based companies. This pioneering training session
was initiated in an effort to train roughly 150 customs
inspectors from Customs and the Ministry of Commerce on how
to identify imitation products, effectively communicate
intelligence updates, and profile counterfeit product
shipments. In conversations with Econoff, officials from
Kuwaiti Customs, the Ministry of Information, Microsoft and
Ford Motor Company described a commitment to dealing with
counterfeit goods. Corporate representatives also detailed
the financial commitment their companies are making to combat
IPR violations in Kuwait. END SUMMARY.

SPIRIT OF ENFORCEMENT STRONG, BUT THE LAW IS WEAK

2. (SBU) Econoff met with the GoK official responsible for
seizing illicit materials, Tareq Al-Ajmi, Assistant
Undersecretary for Press & Journalism Affairs, Ministry of
Information on October 6 and Osama Al-Shami, the Kuwaiti
Customs official responsible for organizing the training, on
October 27. Both Al-Ajmi and Al-Shami frankly discussed the
trials and frustrations associated with disposing of
materials confiscated during raids, dealing with corrupt
inspectors, and their personal concerns about enforcing IPR
codes that carry such light penalties for counterfeiters.
Repeatedly each official expressed the view that the spirit
of enforcement is present in Kuwait, but the weakness of the
law prevents IPR codes from being effective.

3. (SBU) Al-Shami expressed pride at the inaugural training
sessions and declared the training of roughly 150 customs
inspectors an overall success. American-based companies such
as Philip Morris, NIKE and Ford sent materials and
representatives to talk about brand integrity and
anti-counterfeiting techniques specific to their brands.

MICROSOFT: PIRACY ERODES INVESTOR CONFIDENCE

4. (SBU) When Econoff spoke with corporate representatives
from Microsoft and Ford Motor Company on October 22 and 28
respectively, they also blamed counterfeit trade in Kuwait on
light penalties. Microsoft's Country Manager, Ehab Mostafa,
claimed that 61% of all Microsoft software used in Kuwait is
pirated. Mostafa contended that he is combating piracy and
counterfeit products on several fronts and is working with
the Ministry of Information to conduct raids on piracy shops.
He detailed his plans for a USD 280,000 startup scholarship
for a young Kuwaiti to establish an IT business and thus
expand knowledge about how piracy erodes confidence levels in
the investment environment. Mostafa added that he is
managing a study on the loss of competitive advantage by the
GoK as a direct result of piracy. Mostafa claims that
Microsoft is investing five to six U.S. dollars of every 10
U.S. dollars Microsoft makes in Kuwait, as a show of
commitment to the GoK. Echoing Mostafa's concerns, Kuwait
Customs's Al-Shami separately acknowledged to Econoff that
Microsoft had downgraded its presence in Kuwait as a
consequence of rampant piracy.

FORD: COUNTERFEITERS TARGET EXPIRED WARRANTY CAR OWNERS

5. (SBU) Alexander Liske, Brand Protection Manager, Ford
Middle East, told Econoff on October 28 that Ford just
recently expanded its brand protection operations into
Kuwait. Liske detailed how Ford has hired lawyers,
investigators and informants to work with him to target local
mechanics selling counterfeit Ford products to car owners
with expired warranties. While Liske could not offer
quantitative data, he did note that the prevalence of
counterfeit products in Kuwait appears to be lower than other
Gulf countries. Ford sent Liske to determine how prevalent
counterfeit products are in Kuwait. Liske also noted that
counterfeiters had many ways to disguise their goods. They
could price the knock-off product close to the authentic, so
that consumers would not think they were purchasing a
counterfeit product or could brand counterfeit items after
they pass through customs. Liske praised the Customs'
training effort and looked forward to more opportunities in
the future for corporate-GoK cooperation to raise awareness
and improve IPR enforcement.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Despite a commitment to enforcement, the
limited legal consequences for violators continue to
encourage IPR scofflaws. Until such time as the GoK moves on
the long-pending draft Copyright Law, however, increased

KUWAIT 00001060 002 OF 002


government-private sector cooperation on enforcement, as
initiated in this training, may represent the best chance to
strengthen the protection environment. The private sector's
interest and commitment could also help encourage the GoK to
move on the law. END COMMENT.

********************************************* *********
For more reporting from Embassy Kuwait, visit:
visit Kuwait's Classified Website at:

http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Kuwa it
********************************************* *********
JONES

 
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