Africa: The importance of building relationships to combat counterfeiting
Managing IP is part of Legal Benchmarking Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX
Copyright © Legal Benchmarking Limited and its affiliated companies 2024

Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

Africa: The importance of building relationships to combat counterfeiting

Sponsored by


Paul Ramara from Spoor & Fisher explains the importance of relationship-building for brand owners dealing with enforcement authorities and customs officials

Fighting counterfeiting in Africa is multi-faceted. It obviously involves trade mark enforcement. However, it also involves building close relationships with the enforcement authorities, and this includes training.

Enforcement activity

When it comes to enforcement, the priority is to ensure that the counterfeit goods are seized. The longer-term objective is generally to ensure that one or more of the following things happen:

  • The counterfeit goods are destroyed;

  • The counterfeiter signs an acknowledgement stating that they will not deal with counterfeit goods again; and

  • The counterfeiter is criminally prosecuted and sentenced by a court.


Fighting counterfeiting is a team effort. In Africa, it is essential for the brand owner, or its representative, to form close relationships with enforcement authorities and customs officials, even in those countries where there is an efficient customs recordal system. These government officials must feel that they have the support of the brand owner throughout the process, from seizure to prosecution. A critical feature of the relationship is that the brand owner must make experts available who can prove that the goods are counterfeit during criminal prosecution.

However, there is more to it than simply forming relationships – as these also need to be maintained for future operations. This is achieved through ongoing contact. The brand owner must keep close contact with the authorities and give them the support that they might need in effecting seizures.

Officials who do not feel that they have the support of the brand owner will be inefficient and unlikely to pursue matters or conduct seizures as vigorously as they should.

Brand identification training

The training of enforcement authorities (customs or police) is a key component of any successful anti-counterfeiting programme. Training should happen regularly. Ideally it should be conducted at the key ports of entries for counterfeit goods. Without training it will be difficult for the authorities to identify and detain suspected counterfeit goods.

In Africa, counterfeiting continues to be a challenge. However, the problem can be tackled if brand owners are prepared to invest in relationship-building and training.

Paul Ramara

Partner, Spoor & Fisher



more from across site and ros bottom lb

More from across our site

The Grand Board said the applied-for mark would ‘trivialise’ one of the deadliest pandemics in history
Tim Chen Saulsbury explains why single-craft artisans inspire him and how, even at home, he’s never too far from another IP lawyer
The firm also plans to build an entertainment practice group and up its IP and antitrust offerings with a focus on foreign clients
An intimate understanding of a client’s sector is essential to winning new business, a survey of over 28,000 corporate counsel reveals
Counsel say a Federal Circuit ruling on the obviousness test for design patents may increase the time IP owners spend defending their rights
With INTA Annual Meeting over for another year, here are a few things Managing IP learned after attending IP’s biggest party
We provide a rundown of Managing IP’s news and analysis from the week, and review what’s been happening elsewhere in IP
Four sources reveal which tools they have been using – or building – to help them with a range of tasks from invention generation to claim sufficiency
Managing IP reveals Wednesday's highlights, including a discussion on how AI is helping lawyers improve their "gut instinct" trademark decisions
Managing IP reveals Tuesday’s highlights, including an illuminating discussion celebrating women in the workplace and the challenges that remain
Gift this article