Cablegate: With New Law, Sri Lanka Moves Ahead On Ipr

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: 03 Colombo 2017

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect

1. (U) Summary: All members of a public/private IPR
Working Group are moving forward to implement Sri
Lanka's new strong IPR Law, with help from outside
parties, including the USG. There is a window of
opportunity now, with the GSL's desire to develop an
effective implementation regime, but training,
resources and experience are lacking. End summary.

2. (SBU) The Embassy-convened private sector IPR
Working Group (IPR WG) meets monthly with GSL
officials involved in the development and
enforcement of a new IPR regime. Members in the
Working Group represent US firms including IBM,
Microsoft, Proctor and Gamble, Hallmark, Sony Music,
Universal, 3M and Energizer as well as the American
Chamber of Commerce. Government officials from the
Intellectual Property Office, Customs, Police,
Attorney General and Consumer Affairs are present
for these meetings, and the group meets quarterly
with the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

3. (SBU) Econ Officer originally formed the IPR WG
with companies that had come to the Embassy with
complaints about lack of enforcement. Since the
meetings with GSL officials began, the new Law was
passed (see reftel), and enforcement officials
appear ready to start implementation. They are
constrained by inadequate resources, training,
information and experience, but are very eager and
open for assistance.

4. (U) Intellectual Property Office (IPO): To date,
the IPO Director has given four public seminars on
the new law, and a training session for the police.
Another one is scheduled soon. The Office will also
receive assistance from WIPO to print informational
pamphlets and for training. The Director will help
draft a Circular to be distributed to all Police
Stations outlining the new responsibilities. The
IPO has also begun placing ads in the media alerting
the public to the stricter provisions of new law.
The IPR WG will assist with a broader public
awareness campaign.

5. (U) Police: All new recruits will get IPR Law
training in their basic course starting in Jan.
2004. Current officers will receive IPR courses
during normal in-service training. The curriculum
is now being developed. Lectures will be given at
Police training centers around the island. The IPO
Office will organize one informational session with
Police and Customs. A special unit within the 48-
person Commercial Crimes Unit will be established
and specially trained as IPR experts.

6. (U) Customs: Twenty-five Customs officers will
attend an informational session given by the IPO
Director. Officers in the Rapid Response Unit will
be trained in IPR issues, and will be responsible
for responding to all incidents 24/7. Officers
receive incentives for seizing counterfeit goods.

7. (U) Attorney General: The AG's office agreed to
establish an Intellectual Property Unit, and is
considering allowing its Public Petitions Unit to be
used as a Help Desk for IPR issues.

8. (U) The GSL has agreed requests made by the IPR
WG, including a commitment to place a tender for
software each time the GSL tenders for computer
hardware, to cease accepting ads for pirated goods
in government-owned media, to stop selling pirated
CDs in government-owned shops, and to consider
having state-regulated entities, e.g., the Stock
Exchange and SEC, make statements that it only uses
fully licensed products.

Assistance Offered and Requested
9. (SBU) In addition to considerable previous
efforts, Embassy has arranged for the following
assistance to GSL officials:

-- An International Federation of Phonographic
Industry (IFPI) Enforcement Officer from Dubai
provided the Police CID a manual on conducting IPR

-- US Customs Officers from New Delhi will conduct
training for SL Customs on identification, seizure
and investigations for IPR violations in late

-- IFPI will conduct four days of training for
police and customs officials in late February.

-- Embassy will assist in arranging a seminar for
CEOs of the top companies in the country, hosted by
the GSL.

11. (SBU) Coordinating these efforts is the Director
of the Intellectual Property Office under the
Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. He,
along with the implementing agencies, has little
guidance, and no new resources, to structure the
enforcement regime. The IPR WG will assist where
possible, but that group, too, lacks experience.

12. (SBU) Comment: The USG can take some credit for
the seriousness with which the GSL is developing an
implementation regime for the new IPR law. The
desire for an FTA, as well as hearing from USG
visitors from Commerce, USTR, and from the Embassy
have pushed the somewhat reluctant Commerce Minister
in the right direction. There is a window of
opportunity now, with the GSL's desire to design a
proper implementation regime in a situation that is
not yet uncontrollable. Piracy abounds in the South
Asia region, but Sri Lanka is not yet producing
counterfeit goods in quantity. Pirated imports are
a problem and can be countered now with the
installation of effective procedures. The Commerce
Minister wants to establish an IPR policing hub in
Sri Lanka.

13. (SBU) Comment continued: Initial efforts have
focused on training the responsible Police and
Customs officers. No resources have yet been
identified to provide training for lawyers and
judges. Post will investigate possibilities with the
US Patent Office, INL, USAID and others to assist
the GSL at this critical time.


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