Piracy and counterfeiting are costing the Middle East more than Dh184 billion a year, a UAE Ministry of Economy official has revealed. And globally a third of all computer software sold is fake, said Planning Sector Undersecretary Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Al Shihhi.
Al Shihhi told the first Arab Intellectual Property Forum in the capital a number of factors contributed to the increase in counterfeiting in the region. But the key cause was the rapid expansion of the economy. “The Middle East’s growth has helped transform the region into a major destination for multi-sector investments,” he said. “Unfortunately this has also made us a prime target for piracy.”
Al Shihhi referred to an international study that forecast a global investment of Dh1.3 trillion in international technology in the next three years.
“This is a huge amount that will certainly provide a substantial boost to the sector. But the projected expenditure in the industry represents a substantial increase in the potential market for piracy. The same study also predicts that up to Dh662bn will be lost to the illegal trade. This roughly translates to Dh1 worth of software obtained illegally for every Dh2 worth of legally purchased software. Counterfeiting is one of the most dominant forms of intellectual property rights (IPR) violation and has evolved into a big threat, accounting for more than 10 per cent of world trade.”
Al Shihhi told Emirates Business stringent laws had kept piracy and counterfeiting under control in the UAE. “I don’t have any figures about losses caused by IPR violations here,” he said.
“However, while it is a serious matter in the entire Middle East it is not so serious here due to stringent measures and tough laws introduced since the mid-1990s. The UAE takes the issue very seriously as it is directly linked to foreign investment.
“Investors would not come here if their investments were not protected. We have passed several laws curbing piracy and counterfeiting and established partnership with many international organisations and signed agreements with several countries.”
Piracy and counterfeiting are also serious health and environmental threats as most fake products were made with cheap and hazardous materials.
In her speech, Minister of Economy Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi called for more co-operation between governments and the private sector to advance protection in the Arab World. “The forum ushers in a new age in intellectual property protection in the Arab world and I am very pleased to see representatives from varied interests gathered here to take proactive measures that will protect our economic growth.”
Piracy costs region Dh184 billion