Firstly, may I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we meet on - and pay my respects to their elders, both past and present.
Keynote speakers Day One:
Dr Francis Gurry - Deputy Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization [congratulate Dr Gurry on his reappointment last year and say Australian Government supported your reappointment and is very pleased to have you there]
Ms Alison Brimelow - President-Elect, European Patent Office
Ladies and gentleman
Good morning and welcome.
It is a pleasure to be here to officially open the premier intellectual property event for APEC 2007 - where we will be Trading Ideas.
Intellectual property is certainly a hot topic of the moment and there will no doubt be trading in new ideas on how to create, protect and enforce intellectual property in the Asia-Pacific during the next two days.
But intellectual property is not a new topic for most countries in this region.
For example, I understand that a form of trade mark was used in China during the construction of the Great Wall.
Bricks in the Great Wall were stamped with producer's marks so the Emperor could be assured of quality.
I understand the word 'pyrate' was used 300 years ago in arguments before the UK House of Commons about protecting property. Even then, law makers had the same sorts of debates we have today about appropriate protection, use and access. The famous author, Daniel Defoe, once wrote that 'press-piracy' was an abuse upon authors 'every jot as unjust as lying with their wives and breaking up their houses'.
Multilateral IP frameworks are not new either - the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which still is among the most important international intellectual property agreements, was ratified in 1886.
Many nations recognised at this early stage that the results of innovation and endeavour were significant tradeable commodities and that harmonisation of standards between economies was desirable for trade to flourish.
But one has to recognise that there has been a remarkable level of activity in both intellectual property creation and intellectual property law development in the region over the past 20 years or so.
Unfortunately, the last few decades have also been a period where technological developments have made it easier for intellectual property pirates and counterfeiters to profit.
The digital age has made copying and distributing material easier than ever before. So although we may have come a long way - so have those to whom the laws are directed against.
[Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation]
I wanted to start by saying something about Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
Our region is economically dynamic and diversity rich.
At present, APEC member economies account for approximately 40 per cent of the world's population, 56 per cent of world GDP and 48 per cent of world trade. And as APEC leaders noted in the 2006 Hanoi Declaration, the unprecedented economic developments in our region are drawing our economies closer together. Australia is a willing partner in this recent trend.
We are committed to the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific - by 2010 for industrialised economies, and 2020 for developing economies. But while our economies are coming closer together, we all want to maintain our unique and diverse cultures. This is where intellectual property protection plays an important role. It promotes artistic endeavour and the creation of national cultures.
Protecting IP allows us to trade and integrate our economies while maintaining controls over our own ideas and cultures. Strong IP laws encourage Australian film-makers to create films telling Australian stories like Priscilla Queen of the Desert. And Japanese film-makers are encouraged to make films like Spirited Away. Strong IP laws mean Japan can go and export great national brands like Toyota and be confident that its brand will be protected. IP laws promote cultural diversity but this does not mean the laws themselves have to be diverse. For example, in Australia a range of culturally diverse material is encouraged by one set of laws. The songs of Kylie Minogue are protected in a similar way to the artworks of Indigenous Australians. We don't have different laws to protect different cultural material produced in Australia. And we equally protect the music and the artworks of our trading partners through our copyright laws. Effective IP laws help to promote cultural diversity in the region and the trade in ideas. That is why Australia has been active in APEC and in trade agreement negotiations in promoting such standards.
We are firm supporters of the guidelines developed under the APEC Anti-Counterfeiting and Piracy Initiative. Effective intellectual property law is a goal we should all be working towards. This may include harmonisation where appropriate. To achieve this goal will mean businesses can operate across APEC economies and know they have a similar set of laws and IP principles protecting them. It will mean law enforcement agencies can work together to tackle piracy and counterfeiting with a similar arsenal of laws. In a technical area like intellectual property, sharing information and working towards common goals cuts red tape, reduces costs and facilitates trade and integration. In order for us to progress the APEC Trade and Investment agenda, it is essential we work together - sharing information, exchanging ideas, and focusing on achieving our shared goals.
This is why this week's symposium is important. And I want to briefly run through the program.
[The Emerging Global IP Environment]
Harmonisation underlies the theme for today - The Emerging Global IP Environment. We are fortunate to have two distinguished speakers who will shortly be addressing this topic:
Dr Francis Gurry - Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and
Ms Alison Brimelow - President-Elect of the European Patent Office.
The sessions that flow on from their presentations will include discussion about the latest strategies to protect, commercially exploit and enforce IP rights in the region. This is more relevant than ever given our increasing business investment. And I think the APEC Business Advisory Council expressed it quite nicely in their recent report to APEC leaders, when they stated that strengthening IP enforcement should be seen as a 'recurring recommendation'. Today will also feature discussion on the impact of the increasing number of Regional Trade Agreements and Free Trade Agreements on national IP regimes and policy.
In this regard, APEC Trade Ministers have instructed senior officials to continue work on model measures for as many commonly accepted RTA and FTA chapters as possible.
[IP Challenges and Doing Business in APEC]
The theme for tomorrow is IP Challenges and Doing Business in APEC. And we are fortunate to have two senior leaders from government and business who will be sharing their experiences and insights tomorrow:
Mr Jon Dudas, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of United States Patent and Trademark Office, and
Mr Jack Chang, Senior IP Counsel in Asia, General Electric (China) Co. Ltd.
Tomorrow's discussions will also include important advice about the use of IP information as a business tool. We will learn about the latest techniques for using IP information as a strategic business planning resource in exploring new regional market opportunities.
Another session that is of particular interest to Australia will address counterfeiting and piracy in the Asia-Pacific. For example, as you may know, we have recently strengthened our copyright laws to address present and emerging problems posed by copyright piracy.
I regularly speak about harmonisation in intellectual property laws. Even where harmonisation is a goal, it does not mean economies cannot be innovative in developing their own IP laws. Last year the Australian Government introduced some very innovative and interesting copyright laws aimed at making the law fairer for consumers, but tougher on pirates. As I have said before - consumers shouldn't be treated like copyright pirates and copyright pirates shouldn't be treated like consumers. We introduced specific 'fair use' type exceptions to allow format shifting of copyright material, such as copying CDs onto an IPod or other MP3 devices. The recent Gowers Review of Intellectual Property in the United Kingdom has recommended a similar approach.
On the enforcement side, we decided to tackle lower-end criminal activity such as offenders at market stalls by introducing on-the-spot fines. We've also given our police the ability to track and recover proceeds made through major copyright crimes. And we've made it easier for prosecutors and copyright owners to prove ownership and subsistence in court proceedings. We have tried to construct a copyright regime that tackles future issues. And this leads me to the grand finale of the Symposium - a roundtable session on the Future of IP in the Asia-Pacific.
I'd like to speak to this briefly.
In Hanoi last year, APEC leaders declared that member economies are committed to a vision of prosperity. We are seeking to build a secure and favourable business environment. And we are working towards a dynamic and harmonious but culturally diverse Asia-Pacific by building strong societies for the wellbeing of all our people. The key to achieving this goal is through economic growth promoted by trade liberalisation and business investment. In order to get there, we must have high standards of IP protection and enforcement.
I want to say how optimistic I am about the future of intellectual property. I went to China last year and spoke to many officials about intellectual property enforcement. They were very interested in the approach Australia was taking and wanted assistance to develop their laws. I believe China is increasingly taking intellectual property protection seriously because they are developing intellectual property themselves. If you have it, you want to protect it. We all have a mutual self interest in intellectual property that promotes the creation and trading of ideas. Our important role in helping APEC to move in this direction is to ensure that we work together. Only that way will our IP systems remain strong and vital. I know you will keep this in mind over the next two days.
It is now my great pleasure to declare this Symposium officially open.