The All-Russian exhibition-forum "Counterfeit Protection-2004" is enjoying great success in Moscow. The organisers include the Russian government, the State Duma, Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service (FSB), National Consumers Protection Fund, the National Agency for Combating the Spread of Counterfeit Goods and others.
The event shows off the latest equipment, methods, systems and forms of control over the quality of Russian and foreign producers' goods and brands, as well as measures to beat the counterfeiters.
Conferences are being held as part of the exhibition. One of them, "The Legal Aspects of Intellectual Property Protection" was organised by the Russian Agency for Patents and Brands (Rospatent). According to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, ending the production of counterfeit goods is a priority for his government.
The counterfeiters cause considerable damage to the Russian economy, as Russian consumers' rights are violated and fair competition among producers is undermined. Moreover, upon entering "the global counterfeit market", fake Russian goods begin to harm the country's international image.
Pirating, which is stimulated by huge profits and demand, is an eternal evil for private enterprises. This phenomenon is inherent in both developed and developing states. The more popular the brand, the more likely forgers are to knock copies out.
Nevertheless, the state policy on combating counterfeiting has been established and markedly strengthened. The legislative base with regard of counterfeits, both imported and domestic, has changed. The Interior Ministry, experts from the ministries of agriculture and the press, anti-trust and customs bodies, as well as the state trade inspection service, are all working towards tackling the problem, while a special state commission has been set up to coordinate their activities.
Although it is happening slowly, public opinion is coming round to the need to fight this entire industry. Economic growth, which Russia has been enjoying for several years now and has caused a rise in the population's purchasing power, contributes to this. Russians now have more opportunities to buy high-quality items.
Those attending the forum are unanimous in their opinion that all the efforts of the organisations combating counterfeits will be in vain, if they do not enlist the support of bone fide producers and rights holders. One positive detail is that Russian businessmen who value their reputations now prefer to work in legal forms of business.
Furthermore, the idea that it is very important to set reasonable prices for legal products is gaining ground. When this happens, the pirates will face genuine competition on the market.
The materials displayed on the stand of the Main Department for Combating Economic Crimes show that the state policy on combating counterfeits is beginning to produce results. For example, last year the volume of confiscated counterfeits grew three fold. A total of 105,000 enterprises working in the intellectual property sphere were checked. The activity of 500 of these was suspended, while 3,500 criminal cases were opened against the organisers of criminal businesses and their accomplices, and 20,500 people were convicted under the Administrative Code.