Following is the speech by the Secretary for Trade and Industry, Mr CHAU Tak Hay, at the International Symposium on Intellectual Property and Information Technology today (Thursday):
Dr Ho, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
This Symposium provides a valuable opportunity for experts and practitioners in the intellectual property and information technology fields to share their views and experiences.
As we enter a new century, we are faced with the challenges presented by the knowledge economy. If Hong Kong is to become a centre of innovation and technology in the region, we must provide a conducive environment for high value-added economic activities to flourish. To this end, we are putting in place the necessary infrastructure and support facilities. For example, we have established a $5 billion Innovation and Technology Fund to finance projects that contribute to the upgrading of innovation and technology of our industry. We are also planning for the establishment of a mid-stream research institute. But this environment would not have been complete unless we could offer the best protection for intellectual property rights. Investors will be attracted here only if they are confident that the fruits of their creative talents will be protected.
So it is clearly in our interest to ensure that our intellectual property protection regime is able to keep pace with technological developments. Against this background, we already provide in our copyright law full protection for works on the Internet. Indeed, we are one of the first places in the world to incorporate in our copyright law the new standards set out in the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organisation Treaties on Copyright and Performers Rights.
But we are not complacent. We are taking every opportunity to update our laws to address new concerns. For example, we have recently introduced legislative amendments to classify certain copyright piracy and trade mark counterfeiting offences as organized and serious crimes. This will provide our Customs officers with additional investigative and enforcement powers to tackle these offences. We are also working on proposals to prevent bootlegging and to facilitate the prosecution of end-user corporate pirates including, for example, firms producing the goods or providing services through using infringing copies of computer software.
Our robust legislative regime is supported by vigorous and sustained enforcement actions. We have dealt a heavy blow to optical disc pirates, for example. In the first nine months of this year, we seized over $300 million worth of pirated optical discs and arrested over 1,800 people. We will continue our efforts at all levels of the supply chain - production, distribution and retail. At the same time, we will have to be alert to the increasing tendency to use the Internet as a means of transmitting infringing materials. We need to equip our law enforcement officers with the necessary IT knowledge to tackle this problem effectively. Above all, we need to ensure international cooperation on this issue, because the Internet knows no borders.
Ladies and gentlemen, given the rapid development in the IT field, new ideas that will enhance our efforts to protect intellectual property rights are only to be welcomed. I wish you a fruitful discussion at this symposium. To our overseas guests, I also wish you a pleasant stay in Hong Kong.
Thank you very much.
End/Thursday, November 4, 1999