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Seminar on Intellectual Property (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2000

23 November 2000

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you all to the Seminar on Intellectual Property (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2000, jointly organized by the Customs and Excise Department, the Intellectual Property Department and the Business Software Alliance.

The main purpose of this seminar is to explain the provisions of the new legislation and its implications for companies and organizations using pirated software.

I am very pleased to note that piracy activities in Hong Kong have already been kept under control. There are clear signs that such activities at the retail level have already been on the decline. Our achievements in this area are attributable to various factors, a highly important one of which is our sound intellectual property rights protection system.

Over the years, Hong Kong has been engaged in a continual process of amending and updating the legislation on the protection of intellectual property rights so that the relevant legislation can provide us, the law enforcement agencies, with adequate tools for combatting such illegal activities.

Citing an example, in order to prevent the manufacturing of pirated CDs, the Prevention of Copyright Piracy Ordinance was brought into effect in August 1998. Local CD manufacturers are required under this Ordinance to obtain licences from the Customs. Also, the CDs they produce are required to bear the manufacturer's IFPI codes, which will enable Customs officers to trace pirated CDs to their sources.

Earlier this year, we have also listed some acts of piracy and trade mark counterfeiting as offences under the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance to make possible heavier penalties and forfeiture of financial proceeds from such illegal activities.

Meanwhile, the recently enacted Intellectual Property (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance not only provides the act of bringing video recording machines into such venues as cinemas without authorization constitutes a criminal offence, but also clarifies the provisions contained in the Copyright Ordinance, stating in explicit terms that it is a criminal offence for any person to use knowingly any infringing copies in the course of his business. This is a comparatively broad definition involving various commercial activities and has wide implications. Colleagues from my Department and the Intellectual Property Department will brief you on the details later in this session.

As the law enforcement agency for protection of intellectual property, we understand that it is impossible to root out the piracy problem solely by means of stringent enforcement of the law. The market demand on pirated and counterfeit goods has been conducive to the revival of these illegal activities, thus undermining the effect of our law enforcement and even dealing a great blow to the economy and reputation of Hong Kong.

Hence, to maintain the good reputation of Hong Kong as a responsible and reliable trading partner, on one hand, we need the support of the public in unanimously refusing to buy or use pirated goods and goods bearing false trade descriptions; on the other hand, we need the active involvement and cooperation of the industrial and business sector all the more. I wish that after attending this seminar, all of you would get the correct message and a more profound understanding of how to implement proper software management practice to meet the requirements of the new legislation.

In this regard, the representatives from the Business Software Alliance will take this opportunity to share their experience with you, and they will be most willing to answer any questions you raise.

Last, I would like to thank you all for taking part in and supporting this seminar which, I believe is a very good opportunity to further enhance the communication between the Government and the industrial and business sector

Thank you.

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