The Brazilian government has announced two new efforts against counterfeiting amid reports of increasing levels of illegal activity and severe criticism from the public sector. Among others, the International Intellectual Property Alliance has called for a review by the US government of Brazil’s continued eligibility for benefits under the generalized system of preferences.
The first measure is the creation of the National Anti-Piracy and Intellectual Property Infringement Council (as per Provisory Measure 220/2004 and Decree 5.244). The council will replace the Inter-Ministerial Committee Against Counterfeiting, which was set up in 2001 by the former government and severely criticized for its inability to take effective action.
The council will be composed of one representative from a variety of government bodies, including the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of External Relations, Ministry of Culture, and the Federal Police. There will also be six representatives from the private sector, chosen by the Ministry of Justice from a selection of recognized private entities, organizations and associations.
Among other things, the council will:
– research and suggest measures to fight piracy and IP rights infringement;
– stimulate and plan special operations and investigations related to the prevention and repression of piracy, including raids on ports, airports, and border checkpoints;
– create mechanisms designed to prevent the importation of products that facilitate piracy activity;
– train public officers in the issues of piracy; and
– support education campaigns.
The major challenge for the council will be to prove to critics that it can effectively tackle the causes and effects of piracy, and that it is not simply a repackaged inter-ministerial council. In addition, Decree 5244, which regulates the composition and functions of the council, has one major flaw – it narrowly defines ‘piracy’ as "violations against copyright", omitting a large number of infringements that occur in relation to trademarks and other IP rights.
In addition to this measure, the government has also announced the appointment of a Brazilian representative to work with Interpol in the fight against counterfeiting and facilitate the interchange of information and best practice. Congressman Julio Lopes, vice-president of the Parliamentary Commission of Investigation on Piracy, announced the appointment during the 63rd Meeting of the General Assembly of Interpol. The appointee is due to be chosen before the end of the year by the Ministry of Justice and the Brazilian Federal Police.