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Cablegate: Intellectual Property Rights Protection a Priority Say Dubai

VZCZCXRO4928
RR RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHDE #0336/01 2300723
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180723Z AUG 09
FM AMCONSUL DUBAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6592
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 9881

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBAI 000336

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/FO; NEA/ARP/BMCGOVERN
DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS USTR FOR MOWREY, BUNTIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD KIPR EFIN ECON PREL AF TC
SUBJECT: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS PROTECTION A PRIORITY SAY DUBAI
OFFICIALS.

DUBAI 00000336 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
(IPR) and prosecution of counterfeiters remain top priorities of
the Dubai and federal UAE governments, according to Dubai
Customs officials. Efforts to date have been limited by a
population still largely uninformed about the need to protect
IPR and the sheer size of the challenge of monitoring the
enormous volume of cargo passing through Dubai's ports. Dubai
officials aim to increase IPR education for the public and enact
tougher legal sanctions on counterfeiters. They also discussed
broader IPR enforcement efforts in the region and the recent
detention in Dubai of five transshipment containers suspected of
holding counterfeit goods. END SUMMARY.

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DUBAI CUSTOMS LEADS IPR PROTECTION FOR UAE

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2. (SBU) Given the significant trade volumes passing through
Dubai, the now 100 year old Dubai Customs office is an important
point of contact for IPR education and enforcement in Dubai and
the UAE. The Department of Intellectual Property Rights,
established in June 2005 and housed within Dubai Customs
headquarters, is central to these efforts, active at each of
Dubai's 16 key seaports, airports and border crossings. In
addition to enforcing the UAE's federal copyright and trademark
law, Dubai Customs also relies on Dubai-specific consumer
protection laws to more stringently clamp down on and
criminalize IPR infringements. These consumer protection laws
seem to have broader legal jurisdiction and stricter sanctioning
regimes. Dubai Customs senior legal advisor and Acting Director
of the IPR Division, Khalid Babiker El Nour, told EconOff that
Customs officials also rely on a fairly sophisticated shipment
recordation system and a robust set of procedures to liaise with
both local law enforcement and private businesses. Customs
agents utilize updated logs full of pictures and certifying
marks of trademarked goods provided by businesses to identify
counterfeit goods that pass through the ports during routine
inspections.

3. (SBU) Dubai officials act on information from local
intelligence agencies and Dubai-based Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) agents to target specific containers that may
contain counterfeit goods. IPR Department officials then work
with forensic investigators, local law enforcement, the Ministry
of Health and the Dubai Municipality to verify the authenticity
of suspected counterfeit goods and to confirm trademark
infringement. They also liaise with federal authorities once
violators have been identified, so that the UAE Ministry of
Economy and Dubai Department of Economic Development can
register these counterfeiters. Finally, local IPR officials
notify the local media about IPR violators once criminal action
has been initiated.

4. (SBU) The recent detention of five containers allegedly en
route to Algeria from the Peoples Republic of China (PRC),
suspected of holding counterfeit U.S. health and beauty
products, demonstrates Dubai's expanding efforts to combat IPR
infringement. The majority of the detained products are
believed to be counterfeits of Proctor and Gamble and Unilever
brands. El Nour told EconOff that after analyzing the contents
of the containers, officials will hold meetings with the
companies whose trademarks have been infringed upon and may ask
them to press charges against the counterfeiters in criminal
court. While these five containers are but a fraction of the
millions of in-bound and transshipment cargo that pass through
Dubai ports, their detention is a positive indication of Dubai
Customs' commitment to IPR enforcement. In addition to current
enforcement efforts, Mr. Mohammed Al Marri, Executive Director
of Dubai Cargo Operations, suggested the formation of a joint
Dubai Customs-ICE task force to monitor certain cargo shipments.


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IPR EDUCATION IS A PUBLIC AND PRIVATE EFFORT


DUBAI 00000336 002.2 OF 002


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5. (SBU) El Nour explained that educating the public and Customs
community about the importance of IPR protection is critical to
combating the market for counterfeit goods. El Nour is
advocating a joint public and private effort to combat IPR
infringement, noting that Dubai government officials cannot
tackle the problem alone. To date, Dubai Customs' officials
have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Brand
Protection Group (BPG), which represents 11 private companies in
the UAE interested in protecting IPR. El Nour told EconOff that
the MOU has been effective in increasing information sharing
between the public and private sectors. He added that, since
2006, Dubai Customs has hosted nine IPR workshops. In addition,
Dubai hosts an annual IPR day in April. Officials also
regularly disseminate IPR protection pamphlets provided by the
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to local customs
officials in neighboring jurisdictions, as well as to local
businesses.

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COMMENT

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6. (SBU) Dubai's IPR Department said all the right things about
the importance of improved IPR enforcement in the UAE. Better
yet, the recent detention of five in-bound containers at USG
request demonstrates a willingness to take action utilizing
sophisticated intelligence and identification procedures to
interdict violators and protect residents from potentially
dangerous counterfeit goods. The fact that officials here
convey a willingness to employ broader and more stringent
consumer protection laws to criminalize and sanction IPR
infringements, in addition to the use of existing IPR laws on
the books, indicates a commitment to combating the problem. The
tougher sanctions on IPR violators also corresponds to the
government's commitment to maintaining Dubai's image as a viable
destination for acquiring properly certified and trademarked
consumer goods and luxury brands. Given Dubai's role as a major
transshipment hub for cargo and goods, we will continue to work
closely with customs officials here to ensure diligent efforts
to screen in-bound and transshipment cargo for counterfeit goods
as well as other non-consumer oriented illicit cargo. END
COMMENT.
SIBERELL

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