Monday’s session entitled "Anticounterfeiting
Strategies in South East Asia and Africa" explored this. The
session was moderated by Lara Kayode of O. Kayode & Co.
Kingsley Ejiofor of NAFDAC (Nigeria) said international and
regional collaboration is crucial in the fight against
counterfeits in Africa, and that his agency has benefitted from
this approach. "When they escape from one place we can catch
them where they go," says Ejiofor. He said conflict between
various public authorities in a country can hinder efforts, and
that engagement with local communities helps.
"We’ve come to realize that awareness is key in
this fight," he said. Ejiofor also informed registrants about
next month’s public hearing in the Nigerian Senate
on the issue of counterfeiting.
Nick Redfearn of Rouse said the IP regimes and justice
systems in ASEAN countries vary. For example, Thailand and
Malaysia have specialized IP courts whereas Vietnam and
Cambodia do not. Redfearn said strategically important ASEAN
countries need to take the lead on IP enforcement in the
region, picking out Singapore as a leading light. He noted the
Internet has worsened counterfeiting in the region. "This is
because of the boom in e-commerce. Governments are not yet able
to understand where e-commerce is going," he said. For brand
owners facing major counterfeiting problems in the region,
Redfearn advised: "Self-help is the only way for now." He said
the branded goods industries need to collaborate, just like the
copyright-based industries, to deal with this problem.
Redfearn said the best way to approach the issue is through
customs, but unfortunately most Southeast Asian countries do
not yet have strong IP protection at customs. He believes
Thailand’s authorities operate well in this area,
but it remains to be seen when others will get to that level.
China, he said, has made progress due to health concerns.
Corruption and smuggling can also affect anticounterfeiting
efforts but this is not something the IP community can do
anything about. "This is a failure of the legal system," he
noted. He said the narrative should be that counterfeiting is
part of general illegal activities.
"Don’t put all your efforts into the
administrative system. You need the criminal system to work
too," he warned. His action points were: (1) act immediately,
do not wait; (2) registration is critical, so do not come late
to market, as trademark squatting is rife; (3) participate in
organizations and be in the position to know what is happening
on the ground in each country; and (4) be assertive, and do not
take no for an answer.
William Mansfield of ABRO Industries Inc. urged Western
brand owners not to give up on certain markets even though it
is tough. "If you work in the right way you can be a success
story," he said. He highlighted that the approach in developed
countries is unlikely to work in developing countries. "In most
of these countries lawsuits don’t work. Let go of
the lawsuit mentality," he warned. "These are different
countries with different problems," he said, adding: "You have
to adapt to the environment. Be prepared to think how they
think." Lastly, he urged brand owners to venture out into these
countries and present their cases to the government.