EU-China co-op on anti-counterfeit achieves progress

2008-03-10 19:23:48 Xinhua English

BRUSSELS, March 10 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) and China are making progress in anti-counterfeit cooperation, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said hereon Monday.

Speaking at the opening of the Global Anti-Counterfeit Summit, Barroso stressed the importance of cooperating with China in anti-counterfeit and protection of intellectual property rights. "China remains the elephant in the room," he said.

"Unless we successfully engage China, then everything else we do is a mere side-show. Here too, progress is being made," he said.

Barroso said that the EU Commission recently agreed to develop a joint action plan with the Chinese customs authorities, and appointed an intellectual property expert to the EU mission in Beijing.

In 2007, the EU Commission launched a new program of assistance devoted mainly to intellectual property enforcement, providing help to Chinese legislative, judicial, administrative and enforcement agencies and institutions, according to Barroso.

"I am optimistic about our chances of success. There appears to be a sea-change in Chinese attitudes on intellectual property issues, and not just because of all our work together," he stressed.

In recent years, the Chinese intellectual property office has risen to become the third largest recipient of patent filings in the world. Between 1995 and 2005, patent filings by Chinese residents looking to protect their own innovations rose by 800 percent, according to the president.

"Clearly, no responsible government wants the cuckoo of counterfeiting in its nest!" he said.

In his speech, Barroso called for more consumer education. "The role of consumer education is paramount. From early years and throughout their adulthood, consumers should become aware that the choices they make every day shape the world, for better or for worse."

Last summer, nearly 2.5 million diaries were distributed to schools across the EU with information about brands and the dangers of fake goods.

Barroso believes that counterfeiting and the theft of intellectual property can do "enormous damage to an economy like the European Union's, the sort of economy that relies on quality and innovation."