The FINANCIAL — “Awareness of intellectual property rights is very low in Georgia, and one of the big gaps is trying to people understand what are the benefits of getting an ownership of intellectual property,” Timothy P. Trainer, president of global intellectual property strategy center.
Mr. Trainer has been visiting Georgia upon the invitation of USAID EPI project for the last 3 weeks. He has been delivering 9 trainings to business people and university students at three locations.
As he said to The FINANCIAL Georgian businesses and the public at large has to learn how to use Intellectual Property (IP) to generate revenue for a business and make businesses grow.
“That’s why both Sakpatenti and the government at large have to spend more time and energy/resources in order to educate not only businesses but public as a whole because good awareness of IPR helps companies succeed and gain more value from their products and services,” said Trainer.
“The other side of it is that if I take a risk and invest in my business and I take risk investing in intellectual property then the question will be raised whether the overall system is effective enough to protect my investment.”
“In other words, if someone steals my trademark or copyright, are the government agencies effective/aware and knowledgeable enough to help me stop the theft. This requires judges to be familiar with the issue; it required customs to stop the importation of counterfeit or pirate goods; police to be able to conduct investigation and lastly prosecutors able to prosecute the crime. Thus if such steps weren’t taken then such situation would discourage investors and people will not take risks in an economy if they feel that they can’t protect risk that they take,” said Trainer.
Countries Experiencing Growth after Protection of IPR
“It’s observed that countries which became serious about intellectual property right, their economies grew drastically over the last dozens of years.
A good example is Japan where Sony is located. Historically, for about 30 years after world war two, Japanese goods were cheap and of poor quality, thus most of Americans didn’t buy them; in other words they were cheap copies. But all of a sudden, we saw that Japanese goods improve and now, today they make some of the most quality, reliable goods in the world.
Similarly South Korea, even more recent; I remember even twenty years ago I worked at customs and we were still ceasing borders as many counterfeit/pirate goods were coming from South Korea; and that time it was hard to think Korean companies would ever produce high quality goods. But look what happens today – you buy Korean automobiles, electronic products and they’ve completely switched again from cheap/sub-standard to some of the most high quality product in the world. Similar example can be Taiwan too.
In above given examples, country governments played huge role protecting IPR thus similar thing should happen in Georgia and the government should tell the businesses that we’ll give you fair chance to succeed when you invest in our economy.”
Laws in Georgia Vs Other Countries
“Generally speaking laws and regulations is OK in many countries but it’s more complicated and more challenging to properly implement the laws so you give the owners of the intellectual property what the law says they should receive and that’s harder, much more difficult”
Situation in Georgia isn’t largely different from other countries in the region as well as in Asia and South America.
US have a long history protecting intellectual property rights since the creation of the country itself and the constitution. Thus for about 1780s we put language in our constitution for the protection of patents and copyrights; so the fundamental idea was already there. Since then many international agreements and for Georgia the most important agreement was that of 1994, not so long ago.
It was when World Trade Organization was created and that establishment included introducing of minimum standards for protection of intellectual property and it covers all the IPR.
What was the most important about 1994 agreements many countries was that it was the first time WTO (with TRIPS agreement) required governments to impose criminal penalties when someone violates the copyright and the trademark. In addition it required governments to capture the goods which were counterfeit.”
Internet as a Headache for IPR
Internet is one of the most challenging things to protect IPR. Although recently many laws has been implemented in the US for instance or in France. In the latter case if any person makes available pirate music on the internet, the government has passed the law to shut access to the internet to these people.
In the US what happened at least over the last year was that law enforcement authorities have taken possession of domain names when they found massive distribution web-sites of pirate music.
In Georgia, there is very adverse situation vis-à-vis internet because most of the movies/music is pirate ones. Thus another problem is that people who are the owners of these sites aren’t worried about anything because there’s no penalty on this still. So, one of solutions will be to impose the penalties to them.
US government has started putting pressure on its trading partners to use legal software. The recent example is that of China, as after the pressure Chinese government has spent millions of dollars to buy legitimate software and replace illegal software; and I’m sure that same pressure will eventually be here if it’s not already here.
If it was the case that US government put pressure on Georgia to have legal software then things will get worse and may be not now but eventually it will create problems in the relationship. So this risk for the government and the latter has to weight the risk what kind of relationship they want to have with the country.
Background of Timothy Trainer
Timothy Trainer has been involved in intellectual property rights (IPR) issues for over 20 years, beginning his IPR career as one of the U.S. Customs IPR Branch attorneys. His government experience also includes several years with the policy office of the U.S. patent and trademark office (USPTO) where he was point person on IPR enforcement issues.
In the private sector, Mr. Trainer was an associate at a Washington D.C., law firm as well as president of the international AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC – 1999 to 2005). While president of the IACC, Mr. Trainer was a co-chair of the IPR Working Group of the UN’s Economic Commission for Europe and was actively involved in INTERPOL’s IPR Crime Action Group.
In 2005, Mr. Trainer established his current legal IPR consulting firm where he services client needs in trademark licensing and provides consultation services on IPR enforcement strategies and legislation.
In 2007 Mr. Trainer established Galaxy Systems, Inc that focuses on the creation of interactive online IPR awareness programs as a different approach to raising IPR awareness and the links between IPR and economic development.
Mr. Trainer has co-authored Customs Enforcement: Protecting Intellectual Property Rights across Borders (West) since 2006, which is updated annually. He’s also an adjunct law professor at American University’s Washington College of Law. Mr. Trainer is a member of the Ohio and District of Columbia bars.