With United States-sponsored resolution on alleged human rights violations against Sri Lanka forth coming (March 22) in Geneva, the largest US importer of Sri Lankan apparels has sent a warning signal to local exporters who fail to comply with genuine software in international trade.
In a fresh anti-competitive drive, US recently filed law suits against two leading South Asian apparel manufacturers who are leading exporters to US for alleged use of pirated software.
Speaking on the two cases, Californian State Attorney General Harris alleged that the China-based company ‘Ningbo Beyond Home Textile Co. Ltd.’ and an India-based company, ‘Pratibha Syntex Ltd.’, were found using pirated software copies of software publishers such as Adobe Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Symantec Corp. in violation of California’s unfair competition law.
For the Lankan exporters who are already grappled with issues such as an over-valued rupee, higher interest rates and manufacturing costs, limited capacity, access to new markets and loss of GSP plus, the genuine software as a must requirement looks a tall order.
US believe, market players who use pirated software have an unfair competitive advantage over US firms who use genuine and legal software. Thus unfair competition laws in the United States prohibit the use of illegal and unlicensed software and hardware in international trade to prevent unfair competitive market conditions and uneven playing fields amongst competitors.
“Companies across the globe should be on notice that they will be held accountable in California for stealing our intellectual property. This is an anti-competitive practice which harms our state’s economy and is illegal. These lawsuits go after overseas companies whose unlawful actions are eroding California’s garment industry and placing California companies who legally pay for computer software at a disadvantage,” Attorney General Harris has further said.
At a time when US account for 40 percent of Lankan apparel exports and more than 20 percent of US $ 10 billion total export basket, the recent development in US will be an eye opener for institution like Export Development Board (EDB), National Chamber of Exporters and all other business chambers to take a concerted effort to carry out regular compliance tests, IT audits and awareness campaigns of their members to address any loopholes in a bid to avert a possible risk of Lankan exporters becoming victim of US anti-competitive movement.
The unfair competition movement gained strong momentum in the United States in November 2011, when Attorneys Generals from 36 U.S. states and three U.S. territories announced their commitment to use existing state powers to step up enforcement against manufacturers that use “stolen IT”. They also called on the Federal Trade Commission to use its powers to help tackle the issue.