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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Gon Agencies Seek Better Cooperation On Ipr

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0939/01 2712018
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 282018Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4596
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS MANAGUA 000939

STATE FOR WHA/CEN, EB/TPP/IPE
JUSTICE FOR OPDAT ROBERT LIPMAN
STATE PLEASE ALSO PASS TO USTR FOR ANDREA MALITO
TREASURY FOR SARA GRAY
USDOC FOR 4332/ITA/MAC/WH/MSIEGELMAN
USDOC PLEASE PASS TO USPTO FOR HOLLIS ROBINSON

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD KIPR USTR NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA: GON AGENCIES SEEK BETTER COOPERATION ON IPR
ENFORCEMENT

REFS: A) MANAGUA 227, B) 08 MANAGUA 1051

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Government of Nicaraguan (GON) officials have told us they
are focused on improving interagency cooperation to increase
intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement efforts against
copyright and trademark infringement, but working with judges remain
a challenge. Nicaraguan National Police officers also stated that
budget cuts and other investigatory priorities make it difficult to
conduct more raids. GON officials are concerned that Nicaragua's
economic slowdown this year has led to an increase in the sale of
pirated goods. The GON has conducted eight raids so far in 2009,
but the government has yet to convict, fine, or imprison any IPR
offender this year. GON officials also continue to seek more
assistance from industry on IPR enforcement. Although intellectual
property protection remains a low priority, we are encouraging the
private sector to provide more assistance to the GON's IPR
enforcement efforts.

IMPROVING INTERAGENCY COOPERATION
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) GON officials are working to improve interagency
cooperation on IPR enforcement. Dr. Leyla Prado, Head of the IPR
Unit for the Prosecutor General's Office, said that her office and
the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Development (MIFIC) are
organizing regular meetings with the police and customs
administration to coordinate enforcement efforts. She explained
that while interagency cooperation on IPR enforcement has improved
in the last few years, there was agreement among agencies that they
could do a better job against copyright and trademark infringement.


3. (SBU) Prado told us that working with judges to prosecute IPR
offenders, however, is a challenge. She said that several judges do
not understand IPR and misinterpret the law to the detriment of
enforcement efforts. She complained that trials against IPR
offenders are slow and create a backlog for her unit and other GON
agencies. In a separate meeting, Teodoro Bustamante, Deputy
Director of the Nicaraguan National Police's Economic Crimes
Investigation Unit, added that because court proceedings are so
slow, police warehouses are full of pirated goods obtained through
raids. The police cannot destroy this material because the law
requires that it be held as evidence in court against IPR offenders.
He stated that it is difficult for the police to conduct new raids
without additional storage. Bustamante suggested that judges should
attend more interagency meetings to help them understand their role
in IPR protection so they do not inhibit law enforcement efforts.

LACK OF PERSONNEL FOR IPR ENFORCEMENT
-------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Bustamante acknowledged that the police have difficulties
maintaining staff to conduct raids. He explained that budget cuts
and an increase in other crimes, such as currency counterfeiting,
fraud, and theft, have limited his unit's activities against IPR
infringement. Despite these issues, he expressed confidence that
his unit will conduct more raids and arrests. Both Prado and
Bustamante noted that Nicaragua's economic slowdown in 2009 has led
to an increase in the sale of pirated goods.

ENFORCEMENT RESULTS
-------------------

5. (SBU) As of July 2009, the GON had conducted eight raids. The
police seized a total of 4,237 backpacks in which the trademark
rights had been violated. The police also seized 6,464 blank CDs.
The monetary value of the seized goods is approximately $232,406.
[Note: The police calculate that the monetary value of blank CDs is
five cordobas or 25 U.S. cents.] The Prosecutor General's Office
indicted nine IPR offenders as of the end of July. All of the cases
await court action. Prado added that there have been no arrests,
convictions, or fines against any IPR offender this year.

INDUSTRY COOPERATION
--------------------

6. (SBU) Bustamante stated that the police are cooperating with
industry to combat piracy and other IPR crimes in some areas, such
as identifying vendors of pirated goods and offering training to
officers, but he asserted that the private sector could do more to
help. He explained that while industry organizations like Nicautor
-- an association that advocates IPR enforcement and protection for
authors and composers -- provides training to police officers, the
police want more assistance on detecting trademark and copyright
infringement. In addition, the police need better equipment, such
as computers and scanners, digital cameras, and digital product code
scanners, to enhance their capabilities.

COMMENT
-------

7. (SBU) Although IPR enforcement remains a low priority for the
GON, we are encouraging the private sector and industry associations
to provide more assistance to the government's IPR enforcement
efforts. Any assistance that the private sector can provide to the
GON -- whether it is training, equipment, or public recognition of
the GON's efforts to protect IPR -- will serve as positive
reinforcement and underscore the importance of their work in this
area.

CALLAHAN

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