Wed, 22 Mar 2000

Indonesia seen as improving in watch list

JAKARTA (JP): The United States is expected to ease its stance against Indonesia on the issue of intellectual property rights following the recommendation of American businesses in Indonesia, a senior official at the Ministry of Law and Legislation said on Tuesday.

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) office is expected to move Indonesia from the "priority watch list" to the "watch list", when it draws up its new list of countries with poor records of protecting intellectual property rights next month.

Director General of Intellectual Property Rights A. Zen Purba said members of the local office of the American Chamber of Commerce had given favorable recommendations to the USTR office, as had the International Intellectual Property Association.

Indonesia has been on the "priority watch list" for the last three years due to rampant violations of intellectual property rights, Purba said during a break in a discussion on global trademarks.

The watch lists are designed to protect American businesses from intellectual property rights violations overseas, he said. "If a country on the priority watch list doesn't amend its intellectual property rights laws, the United States can take action to cut off or reduce the country's export quotas."

Indonesia has gained a reputation for violating intellectual property rights on computer software and audio music, and for the infringement of well-known trademarks.

However, Indonesia does not rank among the top four violators in Asia, according to the USTR. These positions are occupied by China, Korea, India and Malaysia, in that order.

The lists are updated annually by USTR and are determined by the amount of monetary losses the United States suffers from violations in a certain country.

"For Indonesia, the losses are not so large, that's one of the reasons why the United States is considering shifting Indonesia from the priority list," Purba said. "The United States also sees that our government has shown its intention to stop the violations."

The directorate plans to propose that the maximum fine spelled out in the 1987 Law on Copyrights be raised from Rp 100 million to Rp 300 million, as well as raising the maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment, Purba said.

The government also has submitted three bills on copyrights to the House of Representatives. The bills deal with industrial designs, integrated circuits and trade secrets.

"Many countries don't even have legislation on intellectual property rights," Purba said. "We will know next month whether we've been moved (from the priority watch list) or not." (10)