EU assists Albania to enforce Industrial Property Rights and to promote economic growth
The €1,000,000 project to strengthen Industrial and Intellectual Property rights (IPR) in Albania came to an end today.
Since May 2011, the European Patent Office has supported the General Directorate of Patents and Trademarks (GDPT) to better implement existing laws and has raised awareness of the importance of IPR to businesses and consumers alike. Respecting the work of others, be it a book, a CD, software, or a brand name, is key to fair competition, creativity and innovation.
Pirated works hurt the entire chain of economic operators and creators by diverting reward for works created away from their creators and mandated producers. Disrespect for IPR directly hurts fair competition, jobs and growth, the promotion of which is especially important in times of crisis. Every year, EU customs stop several million products suspected of being counterfeited or pirated at the external borders of the EU. The scale of the trade of counterfeited goods is not possible without the involvement of organised crime. That means millions of euros of damage being caused to honest businesses and consumers.
To protect fair competition, honest business and creativity, the EU has taken action to protect IPR through legislation and enforcement mechanisms. The same is expected of countries aspiring for membership, like Albania. Awareness of IPR and related rights and the recognition of their value amongst economic operators and the general public in Albania is low, as indicated by the relatively small number of infringement cases brought before the Albanian justice system, as well as the widespread availability of pirated CDs, DVDs and other works in the country.
The IPA 2009 project ‘Developing the Industrial Property Rights System in Albania’, implemented by the European Patent Office, strengthened administrative and operational capacities in the IPR sector and implemented actions defined by the National IPR Enforcement Strategy 2010-2015.
The project contributed to the harmonisation of the national IPR legal framework with the EU acquis and to building of capacities of the GDPT and national IPR enforcement institutions. In addition, teaching materials on IP for the high-schools and universities have been prepared in the framework of the project and also significant progress towards establishing the first centre of scientific and technical information in Tirana has been achieved.
The project also increased awareness through a broader public relations campaign underlining the importance of intellectual property rights and their respect by the general public.
Speaking at the closing conference, the Head of the EU Delegation to Albania, Ambassador Ettore Sequi emphasised the need to step up efforts to improve legislation and enforcement mechanisms, pointing specifically to the clarification of the inspectorates that are mandated with carrying out inspections on IPR – “An effective system of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection and their enforcement play a key role in supporting innovation, stimulating investments and economic growth and therefore should be strengthened in Albania´s domestic agenda”,
Since 2008, the EU has dedicated about € 7.7 million of European taxpayers’ funds to IPR and copyrights, for consumer protection, for metrology and calibration, and for market surveillance – all issues related to economic and social growth.