Indonesia’s IP office partners with FBI to address counterfeiting, creates new IP Task Force

19 October 2021

In September 2021, Indonesia’s Directorate General of Intellectual Property (DGIP) launched an IP Task Force to strengthen IP protection and enforcement in the country.

It is also partnering with the FBI for the first time to address the problem of piracy and counterfeiting in e-commerce sites and brick and mortar stores. Pirated and counterfeit products flood the market in Indonesia. The FBI is working with the Indonesian National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) for this task. 

The IP Task Force, which involves the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency, Bareskrim, Communications and Information Ministry and the Customs and Excise Directorate General, is seen to help make Indonesia more attractive to investors and businessmen.

Indonesia remains on the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) 2021 Priority Watch List.

“From our view, this is a very positive thing,” said Risti Wulansari, a partner at K&K Advocates in Jakarta. “Knowing that they are now in line to work with FBI is a breakthrough because now the Director General really wants to see that the effort is actually going on. The plan is that in 2022, they’re planning to have Indonesia move out from the Priority List. It is very hopeful that it can happen eventually because now we see the commitment from the different departments is there because the Director General is actually showing the efforts for that to happen.”

“They are taking all the information that is required to have this done properly like they have this analysis or lessons learned on how the FBI would do this,” she added. “And I think they will have these implemented in having the Task Force to work appropriately and properly.”

The new IP Task Force replaces the old task force which was established in 2006 and which was composed of the ministries of trade, industry, finance, foreign affairs, justice and home affairs. Saddled with problems arising from a lack of proper coordination among these offices, the original task force became inactive.

“This Task Force, because it will be led by the DGIP and the Indonesian National Police, will do all the coordination so that it will be more focused and centered compared to the previous initiative,” said Wulansari.

The DGIP has increased the number of qualified civil servant investigators to enable the IP Task Force to operate more effectively. Currently, there are about 20 qualified investigators but the number is expected to grow further.

Qualified civil servant investigators are authorized to receive reports of criminal acts, make arrests and detentions, searches and seizures, take fingerprints and photographs, contact individuals for examination as suspects, among others.  They are appointed either from within the ranks of the national police or the DGIP. Considering the huge volume of IP cases in Indonesia, the number of civil servant investigators is not enough to handle these cases. Also, some IP owners rely directly on the police rather than the civil servant investigators.

“But now, because the role of civil servant investigators is becoming more important, they are planning to improve and increase the number of those staff within the DGIP so they can work along with the Indonesian police in combating the IP cases in Indonesia,” said Wulansari.

An article in The Jakarta Post reported that Director General Freddy Harris told the press recently that the DGIP aims to be one of the best IP offices in the world. Harris made the statement in line with his announcement of these initiatives to strengthen IP protection in Indonesia, including curbing piracy and counterfeiting.

The DGIP was beset with problems. Among others, its database was insufficient and not updated and access to these records was limited. However, Wulansari explained, the Covid 19 pandemic underscored the necessity of digitizing systems. To keep up with this requirement and be at par with other IP offices, the DGIP implemented an e-filing system and improved its database.

“Those problems now have begun to be resolved one by one,” said Wulansari. “So looking from that, I’m quite positive because I know that for the past two years, there’s been a very good development from the IP Office. I know that it’s ambitious to say that we’ll be one of the best IP offices in the world but I don’t see why it cannot happen. Because the current Director General, he thinks out-of-the-box, he gives ideas and he involves people and experts who can give him out-of-the-box ideas. So when he accepts the ideas, he will do things to implement those ideas. So he’s not only a thinker, but he’s also a doer. Let’s see within the next five to seven years’ time what would happen.”

These developments within the DGIP also include new internal regulations, appointment of new examiners with proper understanding of IP, conduct of workshops and involvement of third parties who can provide fresh perspectives on how to do things better.

Wulansari also believes that in line with the DGIP’s goal to become one of the best IP offices in the world is its resolve to improve Indonesia’s ranking in WIPO’s Global Innovation Index 2021. According to her, the government has a five-year plan in which the increase of IP registrations and improvement of IP and innovation are among the indicators. Indonesia is ranked 87th in the Index among 132 countries, sliding two notches lower from its 85th position in 2020.

“The IP office of Indonesia is actually now doing something. IP infringement in Indonesia has multi-dimensional problems now. Not only will they benefit the infringer, but in some cases, they also cross the dimension to also fund some terrorism and all those things that, in a larger scale, may impact Indonesia as a whole,” said Wulansari, “so even though it may be seen as a small step, I think it’s a step that needs to be considered and appreciated.”

                                                                                Espie Angelica A. de Leon

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