Intellectual Property Grant Given

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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