Press Release

Legislation reform to assist PNG products

12/08/2018

Papua New Guinea Customs Services Director on Intellectual Property Rights and Passenger Policy Tom Vere said the powers of relevant agencies and departments were not clearly defined to effect enforcement, which amounts to lack of networking and effective cooperation among relevant stakeholders.

Counterfeit bilums sold in a shop in PNG and gone viral on social media.

Papua New Guinea Customs Services Director on Intellectual Property Rights and Passenger Policy Tom Vere said the powers of relevant agencies and departments were not clearly defined to effect enforcement, which amounts to lack of networking and effective cooperation among relevant stakeholders.

“Gaps in Papua New Guinea legislation and instances of overlapping of roles and responsibilities have been identified during stakeholder consultations on traditional knowledge and expressions on culture as issues to mass production and sale of counterfeit PNG products,” said Mr Vere.

He revealed this during PNG’s presentation in a two-day Sub Committee on Customs Procedure (SCCP) Meeting on Intellectual Property Rights with the topic “Counterfeiting PNG’s Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of culture- Bilum/Contemporary designs”.

The SCCP is part of cluster of meetings in the Third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM3) currently underway in Port Moresby.

Mr Tom added that the issue was not only to do with creativity misappropriation but also the activities that result from creativity that are now taken over by foreigners.

“Bilums are hand woven, PNG made bags and these bilums are counterfeited and also PNG designed blouse and the design of PNG’s national and provincial flags possibly smuggled in or manufactured in the country.

“The laws we have identified to be violated are the Copyright and Naming Rights Law of 2000, Investment Promotion Act of 1992 and the National Identity Regulation of 1973 which governs the use of national emblems and riganas of PNG.

“The way forward, we strongly believe through networking and collaboration with appropriate line agencies, is an immediate solution.

“We would like to introduce appropriate legislation, review existing laws and streamline our processes and systems,” said Mr Vere.

PNG made an appeal to other economy members to assist; specifically targeting priority number three of strengthening structural reform to address the issue of the abuse of PNG trademark products to which Chinese Taipei responded.

Chinese Taipei shared its experience with protecting traditional forms of written expression and cultural items citing in 2015, it passed a new law that is very specific in protecting the traditional intelligence rights of all tribal people.

According to this law, all traditional intelligence rights belong to the Council of the Tribes and if any person wanted to use the trademark or pattern, consent must be accorded from the council of the indigenous tribes.

Anything involving indigenous intelligence rights is given notice to the Aboriginal Agent Database and feedback is given if these specific items violate registered items or not.

If items are registered on the Aboriginal Agent Database, specific procedures are taken to ensure the stakeholders have the chance to justify their products and not violating any council’s right.

Chinese Taipei accepted PNG’s request to hold a separate bi-lateral meeting to discuss this further.