The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it was putting an emphasis on promoting genuine, locally-produced products during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, to boost the country’s economic growth.

“Counterfeit goods-trading produces no real benefits for our economy, and in fact imposes considerable costs on workers and the community.  Indeed, the losses incurred are estimated as running to R26-million a year,” stressed Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies.

“Moreover, we need to recognise that laxity in the enforcement of intellectual property laws could have considerable reputational consequences, particularly as we prepare ourselves for the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” added Davies.

“We simply cannot afford to allow an influx of counterfeit goods and related activities ahead of and during our hosting of the 2010 FIFA soccer World Cup,” emphasised Davies.

Between April and October, the department has received 80 intellectual property complaints, with 44 search-and-seizure operations having been conducted during this period, resulting in the impoundment of several products, mostly relating to the entertainment industry.

Davies said that the counterfeit industry in South Africa was growing at an alarming rate, with most products now being manufactured here in South Africa.

About 80% of cases investigated were resolved between perpetrators and brand owners through out-of-court settlements.

Davies said that the decision on granting recognition for particular marks and names, in connection with the 2010 World Cup, was a product of considerable negotiation between the South African government and FIFA.

“The legislation on protected events requires that there is space created to allow for the participation of small, medium and micro enterprises, and the promotion of broad-based black economic empowerment. But once we have agreed to the rules of the game in relation to the hosting of the 2010 World Cup or other major events, we must act vigilantly against individuals or groups that attempt to circumvent those rules,” he noted.

In 2007, the DTI approached the Magistrates’ Commission and the Office of the Chief Justice for an intellectual property information-sharing session to bring to its attention the department’s concerns about the scourge of counterfeiting and the impact it has on undermining the economy, as well as contributing to the creation of an underworld of contraband products, concluded Davies.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Christy van der Merwe
DATED: 14th November 2008