IP frauds in Arab world 'total $50bn'
Dubai, February 28, 2008
Intellectual property (IP) fraud across the Arab world is estimated to run at $50 billion annually, a report said.
IP theft, the illegal pirating of business software, DVDs, music CDs and computer games is posing an increasing threat for legitimate business in Arab countries, the Noozz.com report said.
However, it said steps are now being taken by organisations such as the Arab League to start to combat what has become a serious problem.
Arab League Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs Dr Muhammad bin Ibrahim Al-Tuwaijri earlier this month described the problem as an “epidemic”.
In many countries across the region, well over half the software in use is believed to be counterfeit, the Noozz report said.
According to the organisation representing the world’s commercial software industry, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), software piracy rates in 2006 reached 84 per cent in Algeria, 79 per cent in Tunisia, 73 per cent in Lebanon, 66 per cent in Morocco, 63 per cent in Egypt and 61 per cent in Jordan.
In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the rates stood at 64 per cent for Kuwait, 62 per cent for Oman, 60 per cent for Bahrain, 58 per cent for Qatar, and 52 per cent for Saudi Arabia.
Only the United Arab Emirates (UAE), at 35 per cent, came in at the average global piracy rate for business software, and is the only Arab country in a world list of top 20 countries with the lowest piracy rates for 2006.
But even in the UAE, the value of counterfeited products across-the-board – from cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and tobacco to automobile spare parts – in 2006 was, according to a recently released KPMG study, estimated to run almost to $700 million, and to have cost the country around $1.7 billion in lost non-oil GDP, $110 million in lost tax revenue, and some 31,000 lost job opportunities, it said.
In a world in which legitimate businesses are estimated to be losing up to $700 billion annually to IP piracy and counterfeiting, IP rights and protection literally represent foreign concepts in the Arab world, and the problem of piracy and counterfeiting is a pressing one among Arab countries, the Noozz report said.
In an effort to inform and educate Arab businesses, consumers and right holders about IP rights and protection and the damage that piracy and counterfeiting can cause, the Arab League – the Egypt-based umbrella policy-making body serving the interests of Arab countries – is, in association with the Saudi Arabian-based consumer and brand protection organisation Hemaya Universal, sponsoring Arab World Protect 2008: The first Arab Consumer and Brand Protection Forum, in Jeddah in October.
The forum aims to make progress in the following areas of IP in the Arab world:
• Understanding the extent of the problem in the Arab world
• Raising awareness of the economic ramifications, social costs, and health and safety risks to consumers
• Developing suitable strategies to combat the problem
• Enhancing cooperation and coordination across the region and between the various agencies trying to combat the problem
• Promoting better legislation and enforcement across the Arab world and inside specific markets
• Identifying resources available to combat the problem in each country and empowering and building their respective capacities in cooperation with international, regional and national agencies
• Organising capacity building and institutional strengthening programs in cooperation with leading brand owners, international agencies, national governments and the private sector – TradeArabia News Service