Overview of World Customs Organization (WCO) activities and tools of relevance to the TRIPS Agreement
The Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), Health and Safety Programme of the World Customs Organization (WCO) maintains its resolve to protect consumer health and safety, and continues to combat counterfeiting and piracy through a variety of activities described in the following paragraphs. The WCO experience in this field is in line with the other international organizations working in the field of IPR enforcement. There seems to be a shift of the modus operandi towards the use of small consignments thus reducing the numbers of large seizures, but there does not seem to be any significant fall in the number of counterfeits traded globally. The WCO's main activity is to raise awareness about customs work in this area either towards other international organizations or by promoting capacity building activities for our member administrations. The capacity building consists of two factors; training through workshops and education and training through operational activities. A list of the WCO activities is attached in the Annex.
The WCO organizes simultaneous enforcement activities with multiple customs administrations. These operations are aimed at knowing the scale of global counterfeiting whilst providing participating customs officers with hands-on experience. Operations, which quantify and qualify the impact of counterfeit activities, can also serve as an excellent opportunity to strengthen Customs' enforcement capacity. Participating members are able to learn about practical border enforcement measures through our Accredited Experts and gain hands-on experience using WCO tools, such as the IPR CENcomm Group.
The IPR CENcomm Group is a secure communication tool used for data exchange on IPR enforcement, enabling real time sharing of information between WCO members. WCO Operation STOP and STOP II respectively held in 2020 and 2021 to 2022, was for fighting against illicit medicines and medical products linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participating members used the IPR CENcomm Group to report their seizures and the WCO secretariat shared information alerts to members through the platform.
The WCO delivers extensive capacity building activities, mainly in the form of legislative training, document targeting training and product identification training, with private sector cooperation. But the organization also performs diagnostic missions. In the diagnostic missions, WCO experts visit the country and assess the Customs administrations capabilities in the domain of fighting counterfeits. The evaluation includes both the legal base and practical and procedural arrangements, and leads to a recommendation from WCO. The WCO conducted several training seminars/workshops for officers from a number of WCO member administrations in this reporting period.
Counterfeit and Piracy Group (CAP) meeting
The annual WCO Counterfeiting and Piracy (CAP) Group meeting provides a forum for customs and related law enforcement agencies to exchange information, experiences and best practices on combating counterfeiting and piracy. During this meeting, members shared their experiences and exchanged practices on fighting counterfeits.
E-learning module (CLiCK)
By using the WCO's internet-based e-learning module 'CLiCK', customs officers can acquire practical knowledge on border enforcement related to IPR. They can train themselves on intellectual property (IP) agreements, such as the TRIPS Agreement, and on practical, risk-based document targeting.