US laws to sanction exporters using illegal technology

Monday, December 5, 2011

Colombian companies that export their products to the US and that use illegal technology could be sanctioned or restricted from entering the market, magazine Latinpyme reported.

According to the magazine, most US states have enacted a law punishing illegal software and hardware use in companies that export products to the country.

These laws, including seizures, sanctions and even the ban on selling products in the US, look to stop unfair competition.

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Bearing in mind all the rules applicable in the US is particularly important now with the free trade agreement (FTA) the country has with Colombia, since it generates great opportunities to increase exports for Colombian companies, according to Montserrat Durán, regional legal affairs director at the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

"Positioning Colombia and its exporters as users that respect intellectual property will be a competitive advantage in the global market and an opportunity to achieve growth and development, especially now with the signing of the FTA," Durán was quoted as saying.

"When a company uses illegal technology during manufacturing, there is undoubtedly an act of unfair competition, since they are evading costs that affect the final product's value. It's much like not paying social security benefits, evading taxes or failing to comply with basic environmental rules," according to the IT manager of a local manufacturer.

According to a study developed by consultancy Keystone Strategy and commissioned by Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), software piracy creates a competitive disadvantage of more than US$2.9bn a year for manufacturers across emerging markets, including Latin America.

"Competition is unfairly distorted when a manufacturer gains a cost advantage by using stolen information technology, whether in its business operation or its manufacturing processes," according to the US National Association of Attorneys General.