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Cablegate: Argentina's Customs Agency: A Bright Spot On Ipr And

R 172106Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2055
RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BUENOS AIRES 001302

EB/TPP/IPE FOR RWATTS, RWALLACE AND CLACROSSE
DEPT PLS PASS TO USTR JCGROVES, KDUCKWORTH
DOC/ITA/MAC/OIPR FOR CATHERINE PETERS AND JENNIFER BOGER
SAO PAULO FOR USPTO DMAZURKEVICH

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KIPR ECON PREL ETRD AR
SUBJECT: Argentina's Customs Agency: A Bright Spot on IPR and
Cooperation

REF: Buenos Aires 231

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Summary
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1. (SBU) Argentina's Customs Director Silvina Tiribassi spoke on
September 12 with Ambassador about her agency's efforts to protect
intellectual property and encouraged additional information-sharing
initiatives with the USG on the model of the successful Trade
Transparency Unit and Container Security Initiative. On
intellectual property, Customs has seized more counterfeit goods so
far in 2008 than in all of 2007, but remains constrained by law from
detaining goods that may violate patents. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Intellectual Property - Trademarks Better, not Patents
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (SBU) Customs Director Silvina Tirabassi, in a September 12
meeting with the Ambassador, spoke of her recent trip to Washington
to attend a week-long course on the Container Security Initiative
(CSI). She noted that she also paid visits to Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Canine Training Center, and toured the Department of Homeland
Security's recently inaugurated National Intellectual Property
Rights Coordination Center. She mentioned that the latter had
offered to explore training exchanges with Argentine Customs in the
future. Tirabassi commented that she has approved the posting of an
Argentine Customs employee to the Port of Miami in November to serve
as a liaison between ICE, CBP, and Argentine Customs for case
coordination, investigative leads and information sharing. This
agreement is allowable as a reciprocal consideration under the CSI
program, and by existing Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements.
Ambassador congratulated Tirabassi for her agency's 18-month old
Trademark Fraud program (Reftel) which had already seized more value
in counterfeit goods in 2008 to date than in all of 2007.

3. (SBU) Ambassador asked about the status of a pending law on
border measures, which was passed into law in 2004 but never
implemented with regulations (Reftel). Tirabassi called the
Trademark Fraud program a first step in that law's application. She
said that the GoA still has not yet been able to coordinate among
interested government agencies on how to deal with potential import
and export patent infringements and therefore Customs can do nothing
to prevent imports and exports of patent-infringing goods. She
commented that, unlike with copyright and trademark violations, a
determination of patent infringement requires a judicial order, and
the legal issues of how to obtain that while awaiting Customs
clearance are unclear and still need to be resolved.

----------------------------------------
Integration; Diplomatic Vehicle Problems
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Tirabassi emphasized in several areas the value of greater
integration and information-sharing with the U.S., other countries,
and multilaterally. She praised the U.S.-Argentina Trade
Transparency Unit, which exchanges import and export data in order
to identify tariff evasion. She also expressed her appreciation to
the CBP for sending an employee to Argentina in August, to ensure
that exchanged data was even more up-to-date than before. She added
that her agency would sign a cooperation agreement with China the
next week, and was negotiating another with Canada. Multilaterally,
she mentioned that she has been Vice President for the Americas in
the World Customs Organization since June, where integration efforts
have increased considerably since (and because of) the 9/11
terrorist attacks.

5. (SBU) Ambassador also raised the issue of difficulties in
obtaining clearances for Mission personnel to import their cars,
noting that there was no clear list of which vehicles were permitted
entry and which were not. Tiribassi expressed surprise at this,
saying that she believed the Secretary of Industry (in the Ministry
of Economy) would have that list.

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Comment
-------

6. (SBU) Argentina remains on USTR's Special 301 Priority Watch List
due to a variety of deficiencies in intellectual property
protection. The Customs agency's efforts, especially with respect
to actively operating a Trademark Fraud program and successfully
intercepting substantial amounts of counterfeit goods, marks a
bright spot of IP protection in Argentina.

WAYNE

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