The European Commission gave the Commerce Ministry $670,000 Thursday to help it establish intellectual property protections required by the World Trade Organization.
In a country where knockoffs of consumer items from books and compact discs to watches and handbags are for sale in every town, Cambodia needs all the help it can get, Commerce Secretary of State Sok Siphana said.
“There is a strong argument that Cambodia is so poor that the people need copied books and music, and that argument has its points,” he said. But he maintained that the selling of pirated materials must be curbed.
When Cambodia joined the WTO in October, several of the 47 laws it promised to pass included a patent law and enforcement of copyright. By Jan 1, 2007, Cambodia must have intellectual property standards in place.
This involves enforcing trademarks, such as a business’s name and logo, patents that protect ideas and copyrights that govern the reproduction of art, writing and music.
Geographic indicators also need to be protected, according to Cambodia’s WTO commitments, by the elimination of products identified as being from countries they are not.
But Sok Siphana said knockoff products will not disappear from Cambodian marketplaces soon.
“You cannot unilaterally eliminate this organized criminal activity overnight,” he said.
Thursday’s grant will go toward translating European Union intellectual property laws into Khmer, training commerce officials on patent law, help in writing new regulations and educational materials. The award coincided with the publication of a Cambodian investment guide for EU companies.
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