WCO workshop on IPR protection held in Lao PDR

11 October 2022

From 26 to 30 September 2022, the World Customs Organization (WCO) delivered a national workshop on the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). The workshop was attended by 28 officials from Lao Customs and was made possible thanks to the financial assistance afforded by the Customs Cooperation Fund Korea (CCF Korea) and the United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

Capacity building in relation to intellectual property (IP) crime enforcement has been critical with a view to halting at the borders counterfeit products which have a negative impact on innovation, research and national economies as well as on the health and safety of consumers. This workshop formed part of the implementation of the WCO’s IPR Strategy 2020, which had been approved by the Enforcement Committee (EC) at its 41st Session and for which capacity building was still a key component.

In her welcome address, Ms. Anisara Sombounkhanh, Head of Lao Customs Training Centre, thanked the WCO Secretariat and donors for organizing the workshop which was so important for her country. She emphasized the significance of the challenges connected with the innovation and creativity underlying IPR protection. She invited the participants to take full advantage of – and thus gain the best possible benefit from – the five days of training.

The following speaker was Mr. William Solley, Director of International Affairs of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) at the United States Embassy in Lao PDR. He recalled the importance of IPR protection, in particular in the post‑COVID‑19 age. He reaffirmed his Administration’s wish to forge ahead with support for further activities in this field and expressed his gratitude to the WCO Secretariat.

During the training workshop, the participants had the opportunity to become familiar with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the theoretical concepts surrounding IPR and the broad spectrum of the most frequent IPR infringements committed during the COVID‑19 pandemic. They also received information on the WCO’s tools and instruments relevant for managing IPR-related risks, which resulted in some interesting discussions among participants as well as with speakers.

The second day of the workshop was given over to rights holders. Eight different trade marks were the focus of speeches, including practical presentations on “how to tell the genuine from the fake”. The WCO was promoting partnership between the private sector and Customs in an effort to combat the trafficking of counterfeit products through awareness-raising activities as well as through forums such as the WCO’s Rights Holders Consultative Group (RHCG) meeting and its Counterfeiting and Piracy (CAP) Group meeting, thereby facilitating discussion on this matter.

Lastly, the participants had the opportunity to visit Wattay International Airport in Vientiane and put their knowledge into practice, assessing the skills they had acquired and addressing the risk management concepts imparted to them during the workshop, applying the real-life, local procedures implemented on the ground.

For further information on the WCO’s activities in the area of IPR protection, please get in touch with us at: IPRteam@wcoomd.org.