Commissioner: HK Customs always committed to rooting out copyright pirates

7 Jul 2004

Hong Kong Customs are making every effort to root out copyright piracy activities including software piracy to protect intellectual property rights (IPR), the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Timothy Tong Hin-ming, said today (July 7).

Commissioner Tong made the above statement after Hong Kong Customs successfully smashed a local pirated optical discs syndicate.

"The operation this morning shows that our officers are able, determined and highly effective in dealing with IPR infringements. It is the best answer to the concerns expressed by the trade, for example, as in the Business Software Alliance's (BSA) "Global Software Piracy Study".

BSA's (an industry organisation representing the world??leading software developers) study was released also on 7 July and it talks about the problem of piracy confronting the trade.

The Customs raid, which took place in the small hours of July 7, was closely supervised by the Assistant Commissioner of Customs, Mr William Chow Oi-tung.

Commissioner Tong congratulated Mr Chow and his team for their hard work leading to the detection of what hopefully would be a landmark case, that the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance would be used for the first time to successfully freeze assets and proceeds from IPR-related crimes in Hong Kong.

Mr Chow explained at a media seminar this (July 7) afternoon details of the case.

The syndicate smashed today was suspected to have operated a number of discs replicating centres, storage centres, and a huge network of retail outlets of supplying pirated optical discs of computer software, and computer/TV games.

After the crackdown operation, Hong Kong Customs will for the first time apply the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance on intellectual property rights related crime to apply for restraint order to freeze the assets of a syndicate worth nearly $20 million.

The success of this operation is one of Hong Kong Customs' continuing drive to maintain an effective intellectual property rights regime in Hong Kong. Effective Customs enforcement is well supported by strengthened laws, pro-active public education and enhanced co-operation with industry players.

On enforcement, Hong Kong Customs has one of the strongest dedicated teams (about 400 customs officers) in combating offences relating to intellectual property rights. It also has a dedicated team to tackle Internet piracy.

Turning to the study released by the BSA today, Commissioner Tong said, "We look forward to the continuing support of the Business Software Alliance in combating software piracy by co-operating with the Hong Kong Customs in enforcement actions, and taking an active role in our publicity programmes." Hong Kong Customs has been cited by industry organisations as a role model for IPR law enforcement in the region.

Ends/Wednesday, July 7, 2004

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