The government still has a lot of work to do as regards the protection of intellectual property, despite a pat on the back last year when the U.S. upgraded Indonesia's status in the fight against piracy.
The U.S. trade representative moved Indonesia from the Priority Watch List to the Watch List last November thanks to the government's improved commitment to fighting piracy.
However, the government is still lagging behind many other countries in promoting the concept of intellectual property rights among small and medium enterprises, especially as regards patenting their designs.
As of 2006, only 27 small and medium enterprises had registered industrial designs, as compared to 4,899 larger businesses.
"Many small and medium enterprises are still reluctant to register their designs as they regard the process as being too time-consuming and expensive," said Ansori Sinungan, the director of copyright and industrial design at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Firms have to pay Rp 600,000 (about US$66), and wait for nine months for the official registration of industrial designs, pay Rp 450,000 and wait for 14 months for the registration of a trademark, and pay up to Rp 575,000 and wait for 36 months for the registration of a common or simple patent. However, the patenting process can take longer and end up costing many millions of rupiah.
Meanwhile, the registration of an individual copyright costs Rp 75,000, and a corporate copyright Rp 150,000, with no set deadlines for processing.
The government is currently conducting a campaign stressing the importance of intellectual property rights. According to Ansori, the patent office is offering a discount of up to 50 percent of the fee for the registration of an industrial design.
"Under the intellectual property rights system, applicants who are in the process of registering receive what is known as preliminary protection so that they can continue to run their businesses without having to wait for the issuance of their certificates," he explained. This, he said, was contrary to what was believed by many entrepreneurs.
The latest figures from the State Ministry for Cooperatives, and Small and Medium Enterprises show that the number of micro, small and medium enterprises nationwide currently stands at about 45 million, employing 78 million workers. They contributed 54.2 percent to 2006's GDP, which was worth Rp 1.48 trillion.
According to Ansori, the government takes the issue of intellectual-property rights very seriously.
"The enforcement of the Intellectual Property Law has led to the arrests of some 500 people believed to have infringed copyrights." However, he gave no figures on how many of these had actually been convicted and sent to jail.
Most of the violators are vendors who sell counterfeited VCDs and DVDs in shopping centers. According to the Intellectual Property Law, the maximum punishment for violators is seven years in jail and/or a Rp 5 billion fine.(07)