Arab League and Microsoft announce launch of Arab Intellectual Property Centre

Dubai, 27 Sept, 2009 (WAM) – The League of Arab States, Microsoft Corp. and Khasawneh ‘&’ Associates (a member of KSLG) has announced the launch of the Arab Intellectual Property Centre, an online portal which will provide a central hub for best practice sharing and legal resources on intellectual property in the Arab region.

The site aims to provide the Arab region with assistance in its efforts to promote the protection of intellectual property by providing a central database on intellectual property and internet crime issues within the region, including an extensive collection of regional laws and regulations, international treaties and agreements and intellectual property case law from around the Middle East region.

The Arab Intellectual Property Centre portal, which is partially funded by investment from Microsoft, is publicly available and can be viewed at http://www.arabipcentre.com/. The site will also be available in Arabic and English.

“Intellectual Property has a significant role to play in the development of knowledge-based economies across the Arab world,” commented Mrs. Maha Al Bakheet, Chief, Intellectual Property Unit, Arab League. “It is vital that policy-makers have robust data and guidance on how best to tackle piracy and protect intellectual property, and the Arab Intellectual Property Centre is a vital measure towards this shared objective.” The Arab Intellectual Property Centre is part of a broader initiative launched by the Arab League, Microsoft and Khasawneh ‘&’ Associates to reach beyond industry and law enforcement audiences, to educate schools and students on the value of intellectual property. Recent survey data estimated the software piracy rate at 60 percent, giving an indication of the challenge across the region.

“Software piracy and counterfeiting are damaging the prospects for consumers, businesses and economies across the region. Microsoft is committed to working towards a regional reset on intellectual property,” said Dale Waterman, Microsoft’s Corporate Attorney for Anti Piracy for the Middle East and Africa region. “The partnership with the Arab League and Khasawneh ‘&’ Associates is an important step forward.” Dina Founes, Microsoft’s Legal and Corporate Affairs Director for the Middle East and Africa, added “Together, we are taking a coordinated and comprehensive approach to intellectual property protection, piracy and cybercrime in the region. This is part of Microsoft’s continuous efforts to support sustainable economic development across the thriving economies of the Middle East and to help provide a safer IT environment to the public.” One of the principal challenges in the region is the lack of shared procedures and cross-border integration. This limits the access of governments, industry and law enforcement agencies to case law, information on the distribution of counterfeit goods, trends, and best practices, which then negatively impacts the ability to enforce intellectual property rights and effectively tackle piracy and cybercrime offenses.

“It is only possible to protect intellectual property and halt counterfeiting and piracy by developing a successful partnership between the public and private sectors,” added Mr. Nasser Khasawneh, of Khasawneh ‘&’ Associates. “This website will be an important touch-point for consumers, businesses and governments across the region on this vital issue. We are confident that this Centre will facilitate inter-Arab cooperation in this important field.”