DUBAI // A new 3D animation advertising campaign aims to discourage illegal copyright and trademark infringements that cost the country millions of dirhams a year.
The UAE is determined to protect intellectual property rights, and although piracy is a concern, the number of cases has dropped and trademark and patent registration inquiries have increased, the Minister of Economy, Sultan al Mansoori, said yesterday.
Strict laws mean those caught can face years in prison, but Fatima al Hosani, the director of the trademarks department at the Ministry of Economy, said there was still plenty to do. "Criminals are constantly trying to find ways to beat the system," she said.
A study sponsored by the Business Software Alliance showed that government-led efforts to reduce software piracy by 10 per cent in 2012 could boost the local IT sector's revenue by Dh1.11 billion.
The Ministry of Economy is in partnership with the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA), Abu Dhabi Media Company and the makers of the Emirati animation series Freej, to broadcast four television advertising campaigns on Abu Dhabi Television in January - with the slogan: "Let us be partners in your protection and the protection of others" - for the second consecutive year.
Two of the advertisements, animated by Freej, were shown to the media yesterday. One illustrated the dangers of purchasing fake food items, and a second warned against the illegal trade in pirated DVDs.
"We want to emphasise that even if certain products are cheaper, ultimately they can be costly because they can ruin technology or be hazardous to the health," Ms al Hosani said.
Mohamed Saeed Hareb, creator of Freej, said they, too, suffered from piracy issues. "When we first launched, people started illegally copying Freej and it harmed the company." The executive vice president of the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance, Ola Khudair, said internet pirates were intent on rebelling.
"Our biggest problem is the internet and so many people are downloading content," she said. "This is the first time a campaign like this will be launched in the Middle East and we are hoping to get good support, but we also need the help of consumers."
She said the pirates were making money. "A recent home raid led to the arrest of 17 people selling illegal DVDs, another led to the arrest of a man selling unauthorised satellite TV cards and so forth."
Abu Dhabi Media Company's TV channels and programmes are also victims of piracy, according to Mohammed Najeeb, the director of AD Sports Channels.
"By working with the AAA to raise awareness of the responsibility we all have to act within commercial laws, we hope to help educate both the public and private sector and prevent illegal practices associated with TV piracy," he said.