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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05KUWAIT2251
2005-05-25 11:21:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Kuwait
Cable title:  

KUWAIT IPR: NEW INFORMATION MINISTRY ASSISTANT U/S

Tags:   ETRD  ECON  EINV  PGOV  PREL  KIPR  KU 
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251121Z May 05
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 002251 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE PLEASE PASS USTR JFENNERTY AND JBUNTIN
LONDON FOR EGOLDRICH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON EINV PGOV PREL KIPR KU
SUBJECT: KUWAIT IPR: NEW INFORMATION MINISTRY ASSISTANT U/S
ON PIRACY PROBLEM, SOLUTIONS

REF: A. STATE 94876


B. KUWAIT 1965

This cable is sensitive but unclassified; please protect
accordingly. Not for internet distribution.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 002251

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE PLEASE PASS USTR JFENNERTY AND JBUNTIN
LONDON FOR EGOLDRICH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON EINV PGOV PREL KIPR KU
SUBJECT: KUWAIT IPR: NEW INFORMATION MINISTRY ASSISTANT U/S
ON PIRACY PROBLEM, SOLUTIONS

REF: A. STATE 94876


B. KUWAIT 1965

This cable is sensitive but unclassified; please protect
accordingly. Not for internet distribution.


1. (SBU) Summary. On May 24, emboffs met with Ibrahim
Al-Nouh, the Ministry of Information's new assistant
undersecretary overseeing intellectual property rights (IPR)
enforcement. Econ/C congratulated Al-Nouh on his ministry,s
recent raids (ref B), and asked for additional details on
Al-Nouh's new program. Al-Nouh said he has met with industry
to identify the ministry's weaknesses, increased the number
of inspectors, and instituted a monthly reporting requirement
for the inspection teams. He also spoke about the recently
created inter-ministerial IPR coordinating committee that
will, he said, form interagency inspection teams to carry out
joint raids. Econ/C offered technical assistance, and urged
the ministry to nominate participants for this summer's USPTO
IPR Enforcement Academies.


2. (SBU) Al-Nouh was unsure about the status of amendments
to Kuwait's 1999 copyright law. He said the ministry had
recommended that the Ministry of Justice increase fines for
piracy, but not jail time. Econ/C stressed that imposing
prison sentences would be an essential element in deterring
future offenders. Al-Nouh commented that since most people
who buy pirated products say that the genuine products are
too expensive, perhaps manufacturers should lower the prices
of their proprietary goods to encourage consumers to buy
genuine products. Econ/C strongly refuted this contention,
stressing that it was essential that the Kuwaiti leadership
understood that the issue of piracy was more than a question
of price. Rather, piracy has a strong negative impact on the
Kuwaiti economy by hindering job creation, investments, and
protection for Kuwaiti innovators. Al-Nouh said he would be
visiting Dubai and Manama shortly, and would talk to his

counterparts about their strategies for combatting piracy.
End Summary.

--------------
New Assistant U/S Confronts IPR Problem
--------------


3. (SBU) On May 24, emboffs met with Ibrahim Al-Nouh, the
Ministry of Information's new assistant undersecretary
overseeing intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement.
Econ/C congratulated Al-Nouh on his Ministry,s recent raids
(ref A), and asked for additional details on Al-Nouh's new
program. Al-Nouh, who was promoted from a different
department in the ministry about four months ago, said that
he had not been involved with IPR issues previously and was
surprised by the scale of Kuwait's problem, as described in
the International Intellectual Property Alliance's (IIPA)
2005 Special 301 submission for Kuwait. (Note. The Director
of the Artistic Works Department, whom Al-Nouh now
supervises, was personally named on the report,s first page
as a serious impediment to IPR protection. End Note.) To
help improve Kuwait's IPR record, Al-Nouh began meeting with
industry representatives to obtain their assessments of the
Ministry's weaknesses. Al-Nouh acknowledged that the
ministry has serious problems that will require coordinated
action at all levels.


4. (SBU) Al-Nouh said that when he arrived, the Ministry's
inspection teams were too understaffed to canvas the
5000-6000 stores in Kuwait, and so he increased the number of
inspectors from 23 to 45. Al-Nouh called the preliminary
results of the inspectors' actions positive, noting that they
had raided more than 90 stores in 20 days and seized, among
other things, in excess of 37,000 pirated compact discs. To
track their progress, Al-Nouh has instituted a monthly
reporting requirement for the inspection teams; he offered to
provide this information to post.


5. (SBU) According to Al-Nouh, his inspectors face
additional difficulties in trying to carry out raids. For
example, shop owners often keep their storefronts free of
pirated goods, but will procure counterfeits from a second
location (an apartment near the store or a warehouse) upon
demand. He also said that the pirates now recognizing the
inspectors by face, and hiding their goods when the
inspectors approach (the vendors are using look-outs to warn
when inspectors are en route).

--------------
A New Committee to Increase Coordination
--------------


6. (SBU) Al-Nouh said that he supported the recent creation
of a "supreme council" on intellectual property rights. This
inter-ministerial coordinating committee includes the
Ministries of Information, Commerce, Interior, the Customs
Service, and the municipality, and according to Al-Nouh, will
form interagency inspection teams to carry out raids
together. Al-Nouh was unsure who would chair the committee,
but thought it would most likely be Ministry of Commerce
Undersecretary Rasheed Al-Tabtabaei, since Commerce will be
providing staff for the committee. He added that he had
recommended that all committee members be at the assistant
undersecretary level or higher.


7. (SBU) When asked if the U.S. could help provide technical
assistance, Al-Nouh said that he needed better technology to
facilitate information exchanges (and requested that the
Embassy provide the ministry with a larger computer server).
He told Econ/C that Microsoft had initially offered to help,
but that they had been slow in providing assistance. (Note.
In a February meeting with the Ministry of Information,s IPR
committee chief, Microsoft offered to build a software
tracking program for the Ministry, free of charge, to allow
for better data collection on raids and seizures. Ministry
officials agreed, but then complained that they did not have
anyone to do data entry, and suggested that Microsoft should
pay the salary of a ministry employee who would do data
entry. Microsoft declined to fund the position, but has
continued to build the software program. It is possible that
this is what Al-Nouh was describing when he said that
Microsoft was backing off. End Note.) Econ/C also invited
Al-Nouh to nominate candidates for this summer's USPTO IPR
Enforcement Academies (ref A), and suggested that Al-Nouh
himself might want to consider attending.

--------------
No Increase in Jail Time for Pirates
--------------


8. (SBU) Econ/C asked about the status of the long-overdue
amendments to Kuwait's 1999 copyright law, which is not
compliant with TRIPs requirements. Al-Nouh was unsure,
saying that he was not very familiar with the legislative
component of the IPR portfolio. Econ/C noted that the
Undersecretary had recently told the media that Kuwait should
increase the penalties for piracy, and asked for additional
details. Al-Nouh said that the Intellectual Property
Department had sent a memo to the Ministry of Justice's Legal
Department, recommending an increase in the maximum fine
(which now stands at 500 KD, or about $1700). However, this
recommendation did not include increasing prescribed jail
time.


9. (SBU) Econ/C stressed that imposing prison sentences
would be an essential element in deterring future offenders.
He presented Al-Nouh with information comparing Kuwait's
penalty regime to other countries in the region and in Asia,
illustrating that Kuwait's punishments are among the weakest.
He also gave Al-Nouh an information paper on U.S. penalties
for copyright infringement, and urged him to consider
recommending stiffer prison sentences. Al-Nouh said he would
be meeting the following day with the Ministry,s legal
advisor, and would it discuss this with him.

--------------
It's Just Too Expensive to Buy Originals
--------------


10. (SBU) Al-Nouh commented that the general public's IPR
awareness is increasing. He said that most people who buy
pirated products like CDs and DVDs say that the genuine
products are too expensive and that they cannot afford
originals. According to Al-Nouh, if manufacturers were to
lower the prices of their proprietary goods, consumers would
choose to buy genuine products rather than counterfeits.
(Note. Al-Nouh is the second GOK official charged with IP
protection to make this claim within the last few weeks. As
reported ref B, a representative of the Ministry of
Commerce's Patent and Trademark Office offered this same
solution to Kuwait's IPR problem two weeks ago, at a Ministry
of Information-sponsored conference on IPR. End Note.)


11. (SBU) Econ/C strongly refuted this contention, noting
that prices of genuine goods are made more expensive by
piracy, since companies have to compensate for the losses
they suffer when their products are counterfeited. The only
way to lower prices, he said, would be to foster competition
among legitimate producers. Econ/C also pointed out that
piracy is more than just a question of price, and enumerated
the costs to Kuwait of piracy: lost opportunities for
Kuwaiti copyright holders who are denied proper protection;
fewer jobs for university graduates; loss of investors who
might otherwise be interested in doing business in Kuwait;
and an increase in criminality, the proceeds of which could
be used to fund other illegal enterprises like terrorism. He
stressed that it was essential that the Kuwaiti leadership
understood these issues, and that they demonstrate their
understanding by increasing the costs of violating IPR laws.
One essential element of this, Econ/C added, was imposing
jail sentences on pirates.


12. (SBU) Econ/C gave Al-Nouh a handout prepared by Bahrain's
Ministry of Information that explained Bahrain's IP laws and
outlined the penalties for violating them (in Arabic and
English), and suggested that Kuwait consider a similar
project. Al-Nouh said he would be visiting Dubai and Manama
shortly, and would talk to his counterparts about their
strategies for combatting piracy.
LEBARON