Cablegate: Intellectual Property Training in Sri Lanka
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 000499
STATE FOR SA/INS, INL/AAE, EB/IPC:AREIAS
PASS TO AID/ANE:BBUNDY
DEPT PASS TO USTR:AWILLS
COMMERCE FOR ITA:ABENAISSA, JBOGER
TREASURY FOR SRI LANKA DESK:RADKINS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD KIPR CE WTO USTR
SUBJECT: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY TRAINING IN SRI LANKA
REF: A)STATE 42796, B) COLOMBO 29
1. Summary: Sri Lanka is an ideal candidate for IP
training assistance, as the public and private sectors
are working together to develop an implementation plan
for its new, strong IPR law. The law was passed in
Nov. 2003, and the GSL requested assistance with
enforcement. Econoff chairs a private sector IPR
Working Group that meets with the government monthly
to support and encourage progress. Much has been
accomplished (see ref B), but information is needed to
guide next steps, and resources are needed to build
capacity in all stakeholders. End summary.
2. Answers are keyed to ref A.
A.1. Post has conducted and/or coordinated the
following training sessions:
-- Feb 23-25, 2004: Post, IFPI and Microsoft BSA
(Business Software Alliance) conducted three sessions
on identifying and investigating counterfeit cases for
GSL Police and Customs.
-- Jan. 27, 2004: Post and US Customs Officers from
New Delhi provided training for GSL Customs on
counterfeit targeting and identification.
-- December 2003: IFPI representative passed to the
head of the Police Criminal Investigation Division a
manual on how to conduct investigations in counterfeit
-- November 2001: IFPI conducted seminars on anti-
piracy/IPR protection for GSL Customs and CID
-- 2001: An IESC consultant from Georgetown University
volunteered with the National Intellectual Property
Office and conducted awareness building workshops and
training with many stakeholders, including judges and
lawyers, musicians, ayurvedic (local herbal remedies)
A.2. Other training:
-- November and December, 2003: The Director of the
GSL Intellectual Property Office (IPO) conducted four
seminars on the new IPR Law for the public, and two
for Customs and Police.
-- As noted above, IFPI and BSA Microsoft are active
in training. The Embassy-chaired private sector IPR
Working Group includes Energizer, IBM, Microsoft, 3M,
P&G, Hallmark, Sony, BMG music representatives and
others. This group has plans for future seminars,
public awareness campaigns and support for GSL
B.1. Effectiveness of training:
The most effective training so far has been the hands-
on practical training that helps the police and
customs agents with the identification of pirated
B.2. Lessons learned include:
-- hosting groups in country, but away from their
normal working environment, and in a comfortable,
modern setting works best;
-- not mixing the groups right away, until they are
comfortable enough with the law and their
responsibilities (mixed Customs and Police groups were
not as interactive);
-- keeping the size right - large enough to interact,
but not so many that there is no feedback;
-- case studies show knowledge gaps;
-- the style of education here is learning by rote, so
interaction and feedback are unusual, but once
started, enhance the training immensely - the
trainers' rapport and credibility are important;
-- English language can be a problem with the police;
-- different audiences require different training
-- trainers from the region are more easily understood
B.3. Other strategies are included below:
-- The Embassy/private sector Working Group meets
monthly with the GSL: IPO, Attorney General, Consumer
Affairs, Police and Customs, so all parties are aware
of each others' roles, and coordinating and
communication mechanisms are discussed. This group
meets monthly with the Minister of Commerce and
Consumer Affairs, maintaining high level attention and
support for GSL participants.
-- High-level USG visitors who raised this issue with
GSL officials were extremely helpful in getting the
GSL to focus on the importance of IPR protection. It
was a topic in all TIFA rounds.
-- Pressure from the Embassy and visitors was the key
to getting the legislation passed and signed, even
when Parliament was suspended.
-- The IPR Working Group made simple requests of the
government immediately upon the passage of the law, to
which the GSL agreed. These included: tendering for
software with all computer hardware procurements; not
accepting advertising for pirated goods in government
newspapers; not showing pirated movies on the
government TV channel; not selling pirated CDs in the
government retail outlets and placing notifications in
the newspapers alerting the public to provision of the
-- The Working Group has agreed to send a letter to
CEOs of the top 100 companies, signed by the IPO
Director, informing about the new law.
-- Three members of the Working Group have agreed to
sponsor a seminar for these top CEOs to inform about
the law. The IPO Director will lead the discussions,
with high level GSL and Embassy support. Post hopes
to get WIPO participation also.
-- WIPO is paying to translate a booklet on IPR for
-- George Washington University and the Asia Pacific
Law Institute, a US NGO, introduced an IPR
Postgraduate Diploma program at the Sri Lanka Law
College in 2001 ($150,000). USAID through Technology
Initiative for the Private Sector (TIPS) project
provided all the technical assistance, including
teleconference facilities, resource materials and
computers. TA on Curriculum development was also
provided. Already around 40 graduates have been
trained and the third batch has already started.
International IPR experts lecture there when possible.
-- Through the TIPS project, USAID funded the
automation of the Patent Division and the Industrial
Designs division of the National IPR office for
$70,000 in 2001.
-- Speaker and visitor programs have addressed this
issue over the past 3 years, with varying
-- While the legislation was being drafted, the Motion
Picture Association of America, a USAID-funded lawyer,
and an IESC volunteer conducted reviews. Many of
their comments were included.
C.1. and C.2. Needs/Requests
-- Since the IPR Law was just passed, the scope of
current and future needs is not known. Embassy staff
would benefit from training on best practices, and
tools and techniques for public and private sector
responsibilities and efforts in enforcement.
-- Also, since this is new ground for all involved,
assistance would be much appreciated in all areas -
speakers, materials, training, information, and maybe
in the future, equipment. A model for implementation
of a new strong IPR Law would be helpful to guide the
Working Group and the GSL in these early efforts.
Post would appreciate learning what USG, OECD, WTO or
other resources are available to address specific
-- At the recent WTO Trade Policy Review session, GSL
representatives specifically requested technical
assistance for enforcement and for harmonization of
its technical standards.
-- Since the GSL is starting from scratch with a new
law, all responsible parties need training. Most
counterfeit goods are imported, therefore Customs has
been the focus of training so far. Post has requested
a country specific IV program for lawyers and judges,
but has not received a response.
-- As lawyers and judges are critical players, the
Working Group has identified judicial training as an
urgent need. USPTO had proposed a judicial training in
2003, which was not implemented. These two programs
on IPR judicial enforcement would be very welcome.
-- Funds to help defray the cost of sending a Sri
Lankan to the USPTO Visiting Scholars Program would
make a large contribution to the enforcement efforts.
Colombo USAID does not have such travel funds.
-- The Working Group, in response to a query by the
Commerce Minister, is compiling a list of benefits and
justifications for IPR Enforcement. Identification of
articles and organizations that are sources for this
information would be helpful.
-- An in-country seminar for key players with
presentations/sessions by professionals with
experience in implementation in other countries,
especially in the South Asia region, would be very
-- Overseas (in the US or Asia region) training for
key individuals in the AG's Office, Consumer Affairs,
police and customs on techniques, responsibilities,
investigations would also be beneficial.
-- The Working Group is grappling with the idea of a
help desk or 24-hour response line for consumers and
also a 24 hour mechanism for Customs to contact
legitimate companies for help in identification of
goods. Information about successful systems in other
countries would be useful.
-- Supporting materials are needed by all players.
Suggestions about appropriate, helpful subscriptions,
books, and research materials would be appreciated,
and help in funding these would be requested.
-- Funding to send officers to ILEA training on IPR
enforcement would be welcome.
-- Funding for travel of GSL and Econoff to Jordan to
meet with officials who have realized benefits from a
strong IPR protection regime, to learn from them, show
a positive example, and establish communication.
3. Post appreciates the opportunity to summarize its
efforts, and request assistance at this critical time
in the development of Sri Lanka's IPR implementation