The EU and US will today launch a joint action programme aimed at fighting global intellectual property piracy.

In 2004, the number of counterfeit goods seized at EU borders was worth €103 million, representing an increase of over 1000% since 1998. This development is particularly worrying as counterfeiting causes serious losses for most sectors of industrial manufacturing and undermines innovation.

This is why US Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, and European Commissioners for Industry, Gunter Verheugen, and for Trade, Peter Mandelson, are launching a joint EU-US strategy for the global enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Commissioner Peter Mandelson said: “The issue of intellectual property protection goes to the heart of the ability of the EU and the US to compete in the global economy because our high-value goods have strong intellectual content. Stepping up the enforcement fight required a joint strategy and it needed to have some teeth.”

The programme contains commitments on closer customs co-operation with joint border enforcement actions, as well as common enforcement operations in third countries, mainly China and Russia to start with as these are where the biggest challenges lie.

The agreement will be initiated in the framework of the EU-US Summit in Vienna on 21 June.