WCO national workshop for the Gabon Customs Administration on the protection of IPR

05 May 2022

From 11 to 15 April 2022, the World Customs Organization (WCO) held a national workshop in Libreville (Gabon) on the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). This workshop, which was attended by 20 officials from Gabon Customs, took place at the offices of the Gabonese General Directorate of Customs and Indirect Taxes (DGDDI). Its organization was made possible by the financial support from the Japanese Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF Japan).

This five‑day workshop was part of the implementation of the WCO IPR Strategy (Version 2020), which was approved by the Enforcement Committee (EC) at its 41st Session. Its aim is to examine the national legal framework of the country concerned and determine how best to make it compatible with an effective policy on combating IPR infringements committed at borders, backing up this policy with a suitable risk management strategy and ensuring that cooperation is stepped up with the private sector and the other public bodies responsible for dealing with IPR violations. The workshop also provided a framework that fostered fruitful exchanges of views, which will help to further strengthen cooperation between the WCO and Gabon Customs in combating trade in substandard and counterfeit vaccines, medicines and medical supplies and equipment in relation to the COVID‑19 pandemic.

The national workshop was opened by Mr. Satoru Hamaguchi, Director of the International Technical Cooperation Division of Japan’s Customs and Tariffs Bureau. In his opening address, the Director referred to the importance attached by his country to the capacity building activities organized and delivered by the WCO, particularly in the area of IPR protection, and he made a point of congratulating the Gabon Customs Administration for its commitment to the assiduous implementation of the Resolution of the Customs Co‑operation Council on the Role of Customs in Facilitating the Cross-Border Movement of Situationally Critical Medicines and Vaccines.

In the absence of the Director General of Gabon Customs, Mrs. Scholastique Rufine Leoumbou, Inspector of DGDDI Services, attended the workshop and gave an address, in the course of which she expressed the gratitude and appreciation of her Administration to the WCO Secretariat and the Japan Customs Administration for organizing this highly important event. She took the opportunity to stress how imperative it was to work with the private sector and the other control agencies and authorities involved at the border, so as to be able to combat counterfeiting and piracy even more effectively.

The second day of the training workshop was centred on the applicable techniques that the holders of intellectual property rights can use in order to detect cases of IPR infringement. It was also given over to a session of exchanges of views with other authorities that are stakeholders in the area of IPR protection, namely the management of the Medicines Agency, the Gabonese Copyright Office (BUGADA), the Gabonese Industrial Property Office (OGAPI) and the Gabonese Standardization Agency (AGANOR), with a view to developing a national strategy to combat counterfeiting and piracy.

The participants also had the opportunity to visit the port of Libreville in order to carry out practical exercises on container targeting, allowing them to reinforce the theoretical concepts on risk assessment they had learned about by using the appropriate WCO tools and instruments, such as the IPR Training Handbook.

The workshop was run by an expert from the WCO Secretariat specializing in IPR matters, supported in this task by two Technical and Operational Advisers (TOAs) pre‑accredited in this area, who had gained their pre‑accreditation at a seminar held in Lomé (Togo) from 24 to 28 January 2022.

For more information about IPR activities, please contact: IPRteam@wcoomd.org.