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  • Writer's pictureOishika Banerji

IP And Crime: A Cup And Saucer Combination

The Intellectual Property Rights safeguard human intellect within a legal setup. Intellectual property crime or IP crime if placed in the mainstream discussion gains the name of counterfeiting and piracy. While counterfeiting in simpler terms signifies premeditated trademark infringement, piracy involves infringement of copyright and theft of the same wilfully. Although the association of crime with that of the intellectual property is nothing new, the age of technology and globalization made the world realize the presence of IP crime in a more convenient way. The crime network is exhaustive and huge which often becomes difficult to locate. These crimes are considered under the category of organized crime because of the intensive planning that is involved in committing IP crimes. An increase in the crime rate majorly hints on the growing loopholes in the existing legal framework. While counterfeiting includes breach of trade practices, health regulations, consumer affairs, and employment law, piracy is a combined term for contravention of copyright laws, illegal reproduction and circulation of a produced work that was under the protected umbrella of IP rights.

The Contributing Factors Of The Crime

There are certain factors that form the base on which a crime is born. The pointers below provide a glimpse of the contributing factors for the growth of IP crimes.

1) Adaption of technology as an indispensable tool by the world as a whole.

2) Absence of strict deterrents for those who are involved in committing offences.

3) Globalization has provided a wider connotation to trade practices and has reduced trade borders all across the globe. This has open ways for traders to be involved more in counterfeiting of goods.

The Victimless Crime

There are several industries that come in direct competition with the traders who are involved in counterfeiting. There are certain markets that are solely ruled by counterfeit traders leaving no room for genuine traders. The consequence of which involves severe loss on the part of the everyday traders. With markets being slowly replaced by genuine goods with that of counterfeited items, the goodwill of the former is staked by the domination of the latter. The consumers are left confused with the original product and the product that replicates the original one in terms of quality, quantity, brand name, and other significant traits. Along with the loss of goodwill, sale and trust from the consumers, the producers also need to undergo heavy expenditure in terms of protecting and enforcing the intellectual property rights available to them. If we moving beyond the producers' suffering, what comes are the consumers who are purchasing products from the market without being acknowledged with the fraudulent activities that can take place with them are also equally at loss like the producers. Due to the lack of awareness and knowledge on the part of both the producers' and the consumers, IP crimes are at times known as a victimless crime. Although the term is wrong and should not be entertained, it cannot be completely ignored also. Hardly consumers recognize the fact that they have been cheated with counterfeited goods. The same goes for piracy as the creativity of a person is replicated in such a way that it cannot be distinguished with the original one. No person prefers to go for a counter check of his creativity after the work is produced. When ignorance falls hard on the holders of originality, they are left helpless.

The Possible Solutions

Counterfeiting and piracy are crimes that are extremely difficult to eradicate from any nation. But every issue comes with a solution. Discovering solutions to these problems has become a global challenge and therefore it demands participation on the part of the companies along with legal enforcement agencies and governments from all across the world. The protection of the intellectual property is a complex one and involves not only the legal department but also other departments like human resources, technology, etc. The various ways provided below are some of the steps that can be adopted to secure the intellectual property from being subjected to criminal activities.

1) It is essential for an intellectual property right holder to be acknowledged with the intellectual property he or she is possessing. If a person knows what needs to be protected, he will also be aware of the fact as to how to get it protected.

2) The right holders should learn to prioritize their intellectual property so that they can figure out which assets are important and which are not so that protection of the former can be increased to avoid it from being subjected to theft.

3) If infringement issues are carried to the court of law, the burden of proving that the thing infringed was well protected. To avoid negligence on the part of the right holders, the valuable intellectual property they hold should be labelled.

4) The employees in a company or in a business should be educated about the dangers that are available to severely affect the intellectual property.

5) The intellectual property should be protected both physically and digitally to eliminate all scopes for counterfeiting and piracy.

The above five pointers are not exhaustive and therefore welcomes suggestions and additions. Governments around the world must on their parts initiate the growth and application of stricter laws which will prove to be suitable enough to reduce the crimes in relation to intellectual properties. It is time for us to realize that crimes associated with intellectual property are as grave as all other crimes and therefore requires attention.


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