By Pamela Passman, founding President and CEO of the Center for Responsible Enterprise and Trade (CREATe.org)
Piracy is an issue that at times seems insurmountable. It is a deeply complex and costly challenge for the music community. Most in the community are aware of estimates suggesting that 99% of music downloaded in China is pirated and losses from pirated songs, movies and software are in the billions of dollars.
However, the music community is not alone in its fight for Intellectual Property (IP) protection. With the recent growth of e-commerce and international trade, protecting intellectual property has become a critical issue for companies across multiple industry sectors.
Case in point: a recent Senate study found that the U.S. Department of Defense had more than one million counterfeit parts in its supply chain, placing the lives of American troops in danger. Similarly, counterfeit anti-malaria and tuberculosis drugs cause approximately 700,000 deaths a year.
However, counterfeits and other IP issues do not solely affect tangible goods or goods purchased overseas. Trade secrets, such as formulas, technical information, programs, and other internal and external pieces of information have become targets thanks to the rise of corporate espionage and electronic communication.
To combat these problems, numerous domestic and international laws and regulations have been adopted. Trade agreements increasingly contain intellectual property provisions, and penalties for IP theft are becoming increasingly severe. However, despite these efforts, companies still face substantial financial losses due to a lack of IP protection.
One new approach
A new organization called CREATe.org—The Center for Responsible and Ethical Trade—seeks to move the ball forward, by building awareness of “best practices” for multinational corporations to work to build a culture of compliance among suppliers and business networks on the issues of intellectual property (IP) protection and corruption prevention. CREATe works to do this by developing tools for companies to benchmark IP compliance and more importantly, build capacity and improvements in practices through training and resources.
Combined with government efforts, such new approaches will boost the confidence of all participants doing business in the international arena and hopefully start driving change that will create a broader culture of compliance.
Pamela Passman is the founding President and CEO of the Center for Responsible Enterprise and Trade (CREATe.org), a non-profit business association that develops tools and resources to encourage greater compliance along global supply chains with respect to the protection of intellectual property and the prevention of corruption.