The second annual Anti-Counterfeit and Intellectual Property conference opened with a resounding call for global collaboration, echoing throughout the Simpson Bay resort on Thursday, October 19, 2023. This remarkable two-day event was organized by the Honorable Minister of Justice, Anna E. Richardson, and supported by the Government of Sint Maarten, and DISOSA. It brought together 27 experts and industry leaders, all committed to addressing the dire concerns of counterfeit goods and safeguarding intellectual property rights.
Compelling statements were made by Gerardo Ortiz of Nike, who emphasized that counterfeit goods have evolved into a problem affecting all its consumers. He asserted, “Counterfeiters are often linked to criminal organizations, making it a socially committed crime. It has become socially acceptable to sell counterfeit goods, but the consequences are detrimental, even to our health.”
Julie Meija, representing the esteemed Proctor and Gamble (P&G), delivered a powerful and interactive presentation, highlighting the dire consequences of using counterfeit products and goods on the human body. Meija stressed the grim reality of individuals losing their lives due to their ignorance about the health risks associated with counterfeit purchases.
Peggy-Ann Brandon, President of the Sint Maarten Chamber of Commerce (COCI) introduced the “COCI Approach,” advocating for the creation of an environment that discourages the purchasing of fake products and services. She underscored the importance of raising awareness about the dangers of buying counterfeit products and encouraged consumers to take pride in their purchases. A notable announcement was the forthcoming launch of an incentive program by COCI, which will issue a certification sticker, admonishing consumers to look out for a seal of approval to endorse local businesses committed to authentic, safe products.
Other outstanding international speakers included Neil Narriman of the Federation of European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI)/PUMA, Kirstin Bock-Pedersen of Interpol, Attorney at law, Notaries Public, Patent and Trademark Agent, Mikhail Jackson and much more.
“We proudly hold Sint Maarten at heart, aiming to raise awareness that quality should never be compromised for the sake of cheap substitutes. Our government is committed to protecting our community, ensuring that fake and harmful products are kept at bay. The Customs Department plays a pivotal role in controlling imports, safeguarding our island against illicit goods.
This year, our conference has doubled in size, attracting experts, brand representatives, and intellectual property defenders from around the world. Their enthusiasm demonstrates the ongoing importance of combatting counterfeit trade and protecting intellectual property.
As the Minister of Justice and host of this conference, I extend my gratitude to DISOSA for their invaluable collaboration with me as Minister of Justice and Customs Sint Maarten. I also thank our Prime Minister, Silveria Jacobs and Finance Minister, Ardwell Irion for their powerful speeches, as well as all Ministers and Members of Parliament for their attendance. A special thanks to everyone that prioritized the conference traveling from near or far to be in attendance.
It is crucial that both the public and the business community distinguish between authentic and fake harmful products to keep Sint Maarten safe. Let’s continue to educate and raise awareness as we work towards a safer, more secure future for our beloved island.”
The Second Annual Inter-Counterfeit and Intellectual Property conference was an essential platform which underscored the importance of collaboration in protecting consumers and promoting genuine products.