Cambodian manufacturers are at risk of being blocked from exporting to the United States for using pirated software, IT industry bodies warned yesterday.
Speaking at a seminar that was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh, Michael Mudd, the secretary general of the Asia-Pacific Open Computing Alliance, whose members include Microsoft and some of the world’s largest software developers, said that US states are enlisting competition laws to clamp down on foreign companies using unlicensed software.
“For global trade … competition laws are really being used to prosecute intellectual property theft,” he said.
While no cases have been bought against Cambodian firms, Mudd cited two instances of manufacturers in China and India that have cases pending in California, where he said 80 per cent of all of Asia’s exports land.
Penalties handed down could be as extreme as blocking shipping to a prosecuting state’s ports, Mudd said.
Peter Fowler, the regional IP attache for Southeast Asia at the US Patent and Trademark Office, said that US State Attorneys beholden to their voters are keen to protect local jobs, and could use laws to ensure a level playing field for foreign competition.
“You can’t actually predict where the next case is going to be. So you need to be prepared,” he said, encouraging an audience of garment sector representatives to ensure the use of licensed software.
The lack of resources to support IP laws have long been a problem for the government, but a strategy aimed at improving enforcement and educating users on the importance of licensed software is now underway, according to Var Roth San, director of the intellectual property department at the Ministry of Commerce.