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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07MINSK831
2007-10-01 13:54:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Minsk
Cable title:  

IPR PROTECTION FOR SOFTWARE: AROUND THE BEND?

Tags:   KIPR  EINT  PGOV  SCUL  BO 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO3274
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSK #0831/01 2741354
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 011354Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MINSK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6531
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1682
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MINSK 000831 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
STATE FOR EB/TPP/IPE
STATE PASS USTR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/01/2017
TAGS: KIPR EINT PGOV SCUL BO
SUBJECT: IPR PROTECTION FOR SOFTWARE: AROUND THE BEND?

REF: MINSK 656

Classified By: Ambassador Karen Stewart for reason 1.4 (d).

Summary
-------



1. (C) A Minsk conference highlighted the need for improved
IPR protection for software in Belarus. Despite reasonable
legislation, piracy rates for software remain above 80
percent. Previously the small size of the Belarusian market
meant little pressure to improve enforcement, but the
industry may start pushing for change with the help of the
government-backed High Tech Park. End summary.



2. (U) This cable is based on presentations and conversations
at the September 26-27 conference "Computer Programs as
Intellectual Property in Belarus" held in Minsk, as well as a
September 27 meeting between State Department-funded speaker
Joseph Beck, High Tech Park (HTP) (reftel) Deputy Director
Aleksandr Martinkevich, United Nations Economic Commission
for Europe IPR Specialist Ralph Heinrich and Deputy Pol/Econ
Chief.

IPR Enforcement for Software in Belarus still Questionable


--------------------------



--------------------------





3. (C) A HTP-sponsored conference in Minsk underscored
concerns over IPR enforcement in Belarus' IT sector.
Martinkevich told us the country's laws met world standards,
but Belarus lacked enforcement mechanisms. Beck agreed that
Belarusian laws did not differ significantly from those in
some developed countries, such as Britain, or from those in
outsourcing giant India.



4. (U) Head Specialist in the Ministry of Justice's
Department of Civil, Environmental, Licensing and Foreign
Trade Regulations Vitaliy Sorokin explained that low consumer
purchasing power and a weak tradition of buying licensed
products contributed to unlicensed software accounting for
over 80 percent of programs used in Belarus. Sorokin
admitted he did not know how many unlicensed programs he used
on his personal computer, provoking a mixture of groans and
laughter from the hundred plus conference attendees. Natalya
Barkun, Deputy Director of the National Center for
Intellectual Property, characterized Belarus' regulations as
focused on protecting intellectual property in the industrial
sphere. However, she hoped a procedure introduced earlier in
the month to register original computer programs would
increase protection for software developers.

A Vicious Cycle of Small Market and Weak IPR Protection?


--------------------------



--------------------------





5. (SBU) Participants agreed that the small size of the
Belarusian market means less attention from key
multinationals to promoting licensed software in Belarus.
Martinkevich said that until this summer Microsoft did not
offer a local phone number for customer support, thereby

providing little incentive to pay more for a licensed
product. Natalya Nemkovich, Director of the Belarusian
software firm Softklub, noted that many local companies
purchasing legal software used the now old-fashioned method
of buying CDs in a retail outlet. With major companies only
tracking clients that buy direct from the license-holder or
authorized partners, companies underestimate the size of the
Belarusian market and decide it does not merit their
attention.

Are Local Players Ready for Change?


--------------------------





6. (C) Martinkevich said the HTP hopes the conference will
increase public attention to IPR enforcement, which he sees
as vital for attracting further international players to set
up shop in Belarus. Martinkevich noted that when the
presidential decree for the HTP was signed in 2005 the Park's
administration consciously did not seek major international
residents for fear they would swallow up fledgling local
competitors. With residents continuing to expand -- they
hire five to six new employees daily -- the HTP can now
confidently seek out more major international firms such as
Microsoft, according to Martinkevich. The HTP will even set
up a joint training center with India, whom some residents
consider a dangerous competitor, in the first building it
hopes to open next year (when it ceases to become a
completely virtual venture).

MINSK 00000831 002 OF 002





7. (U) Some local companies also want to see greater IPR
protection for software. While many other companies focus
almost exclusively on exports, Softklub supports local
financial companies. Nemkovich explained that her company
made the switch from selling products to licensing its
software in 2001. She noted other local companies would have
to make the switch if they ever expected to sell licensed
programs outside of Belarus. She expressed amazement that no
government agency seemed willing to take the lead to improve
enforcement for IPR protection at the same time the
government was pushing to create a "Belarusian Silicon
Valley."

Comment: Can Tsepkalo Drag Along Law Enforcement?


--------------------------



--------------------------





7. (C) Under the direction of former Ambassador to the United
States Valeriy Tsepkalo, the HTP appears determined to meet
international standards in IPR protection for its present and
future residents. The fact that the HTP took the initiative
to host the conference was an important step. However, the
underwhelming presentation by the Ministry of Justice
representative suggests Tsepkalo will have to do much more to
get the rest of the government up to speed.
Stewart