Following the 6th annual Congress on Combating Counterfeiting
and Piracy, held in France in February 2011, it has become
increasingly obvious that counterfeiting has become a worldwide
pandemic. The statistics released during the congress confirmed
that counterfeiting and piracy is no longer limited to articles of
clothing, electronics and accessories but has increasingly shifted
into the field of pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs, which pose a
greater risk as it relates to the safety and well being of the
It is of paramount importance that every effort is made to
manage and stop the trade in counterfeit goods, in particular, in
the country of origin of those goods. The cooperation of law
enforcement authorities in the various countries including the
country of manufacture of the counterfeit goods; any transit
countries and the country of final destination is vital. The role
of the brand owners must not be underestimated. Essentially, it is
a public/private partnership that must be developed. This is where
the World Customs Organization plays a crucial role.
In June 2010, at its annual council meeting, The World Customs
Organization (WCO) introduced a new strategy to the World in the
form of the Interface Public Members (IPM). This system is a
database that enables IP right owners to give Customs direct access
to information that would assist them in the identification and
seizure of counterfeit goods and is an invaluable tool for training
officials with brand identification skills.
IP right owners must continue to regularly update the IPM system
with new information, images and identification tools in order to
grow the database. This in turn will enable Customs officials to
receive more effective training. As IPM spreads all over the world
the strangle hold on counterfeiters will become tighter and would
hopefully result in effective enforcement.
Hopefully, the IPM system will be implemented in South Africa
sooner rather than later.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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