October 17, 2018 AmCham Seminar on Intellectual Property Rights

AmCham in Uzbekistan joined with Legalmax Law Firm to present a seminar discussion on “Attracting Investment- The Case for Intellectual Property Rights”. The seminar was organized in the framework of the Eighth Annual Central Asia Trade Forum that was co-hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry for Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan. Over 100 participants attended from private sector companies in Central Asia and government officials from the State Customs Committee, the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Innovations and the State Agency for Intellectual Property Rights Protection.

AmCham Honorary President Donald Nicholson II welcomed guests and was quoted as saying “the importance of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues is supported by the fact that the biggest companies that currently operate globally, like Coca-Cola, Google, Tesla and others have reached their success due to investment in research and development, innovations, and technological advances. Be it the unique formula of Coca-Cola, conveniently modified solar battery of Tesla, or unique software for Google. Therefore, the investments tend to go to the jurisdictions where the IPR are protected by the law and are duly implemented”.

This seminar is the first of the series of seminars on IPR and featured speakers from the FMCG Industry of the Central Asia region. Speakers included Olga Voronova the Central Asian Manager of Proctor & Gamble, Sergey Levin of the Trademark Counsel of Eurasia & Africa, Coca-Cola and Pavel Salikhov, the Corporate Affairs Director of Mars & Wrigley Confectionery CEAB and Turkey. The speakers shared that all three companies face similar issues with their products in Uzbekistan and Central Asia as a whole. They stated that the market is flooded with fake products and look-alike products from all three producers. The volume of counterfeit products exceeds 50% of the turnover in certain categories. Proctor & Gamble stated that this is the largest barrier in developing international brands and subsequently investing in Uzbekistan. The main concern however, is the health and safety of the consumers purchasing counterfeit products. In many cases, these fake products are produced in garages or mini-factories in different locations of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and areas of China. The issues of quality control and hygiene are non-existent in the making of these products.

According to Mars Corporation, there are approximately 30 mid-size manufacturers of Mars’ lookalike products in Uzbekistan and 10 large manufacturers. Each large manufacturer produces 1 ton of counterfeit products per day. Packaging for these products is ordered from China. The counterfeit products are sold to the consumers at 25% to 75% of the original products’ price. The distribution channels arrange export to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Participants discussed administrative, procedural, regulatory, legislative and institutional measures that must be addressed to improve the situation. It was agreed that public and private sectors should work together to improve the situation, which includes creating a working group within the AmCham to provide recommendations to the related government agencies to jointly tackle the challenges in the IPR protection sector.

Please contact the AmCham office if you wish to join the initiative #AmChamIPR and follow recent developments at www.amcham.uz.