U.S. urges Brazil to crack down on pirated goods

Friday, February 9, 2007; 3:50 PM

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil, the world's fourth biggest market for pirated goods, must do more to fight piracy of international products which cost companies billions of dollars annually, the U.S. Attorney General said on Friday.

The United States is using more law enforcement personnel to crack down on pirated goods, Alberto Gonzales, the top U.S. law enforcement official, said in a speech to an industry association in Rio de Janeiro.

"During this visit I've encouraged my law enforcement colleagues in Brazil to do the same," said Gonzales, who also visited El Salvador and Argentina.

The United States is Brazil's main foreign investor and commercial partner, with bilateral trade of some $40 billion annually.

"I understand there are challenges here. I think we need to give serious consideration about law enforcement, whether we have sufficient laws ... to protect intellectual property rights here in this country," Gonzales said.

Gonzales said he applauded Brazil's efforts to increase its crack down, but said it cannot work alone and must join forces with the United States to combat international piracy.

"The digital age has created a borderless world for large criminal enterprises, so our law enforcement efforts must be global and borderless as well," he said.

The United States is studying sending a coordinator to South America to focus on intellectual property enforcement in the region, Gonzales said. It already has a representative in southeast Asia and will send another to Eastern Europe in coming months.

Gonzales said that criminals are using the Internet to create and sell counterfeit commercial software products and computer games. They are also expanding trade in pirated films and music, clothing, shoes, auto spare parts and medicine.

Gustavo Starling Leonardos, president of Brazil's Intellectual Property Association, said that trade in counterfeit goods resulted in a loss in government tax revenue of 30 billion reais ($14.2 billion) last year.

"The law needs to be changed to make it an offense punishable by imprisonment," he said, adding that 75 percent of counterfeit goods came from abroad, mainly China.

In the first nine months of 2006, the government seized a record 602 million reais of fake goods, against 596 million reais in the whole of 2005.

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