At the formal American launch of the new initiative, Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP), ICC Chairman Jean-René Fourtou said that "piracy and counterfeiting now affect all of us and all our companies. This illegal activity is spiralling out of control. It is a major threat. It's like a cancer".
Mr Fourtou, the Chairman and CEO of Vivendi Universal, urged companies "to join forces with us and to build a united front in this fight". He said executives have long complained that no single entity coordinates industry efforts to curb the rampant spread of fakes worldwide, and t hat ICC, as the world's leading private-sector organization, had been enlisted to fill such a role.
Counterfeiting and piracy are estimated to cost industry US$600 billion each year. Not only does business lose out, but costs are ultimately passed to consumers, governments are deprived of tax revenues, jobs are lost and much research and innovation never happens, said Mr Fourtou.
Last month, the office of New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr, released a report estimating that counterfeit goods cost the city some US$1billion per year in lost tax revenue, significantly affecting the delivery of essential services. Representatives of Mr Thompson's office took part in the meeting.
One of BASCAP's top priorities is expected to be a public education campaign to underscore such costs to governments around the world. ICC's network of some 90 national committees, coupled with its long track record of advocating on behalf of stronger protection of intellectual property rights, should play a major role in the effort.
Mr Fourtou added that recent intelligence from Interpol indicated that organized crime and terrorists were increasingly turning to counterfeiting and piracy to fund their activities.
Mr Fourtou said he plans to form a group of CEOs to help lead the initiative. The New York meeting followed a similar session in Paris three weeks ago.
Thomas Niles, president of ICC's American affiliate, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), said the BASCAP initiative would complement and strengthen existing business and governmental initiatives to fight the spread of fake products.
Headquartered in Paris and with more than 8,000 member companies in over 130 countries, ICC is the largest, most representative private-sector association in the world. USCIB, based in New York, serves as ICC's American national committee and counts some 300 leading US companies, professional services firms and associations as members. More information is available at www.uscib.org.
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