Last week, I attended the Kenya Copyright Board Open Day and I had the opportunity to interact with an official from the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA). I was very clueless as to how rampant the issue of counterfeit goods is in our Kenyan market and how low key the awareness is.
So, whose task is it to make aware to the consumer about the counterfeit goods? This is a task for the manufacturer or inventor. And first things first, they must protect their intellectual property rights with the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) depending on the nature of the intellectual property asset.
As the owner of an invention or manufacturer, to keep your brand on top you must be aware of your competition and aware of any counterfeits passing off as your brand. The minute you are aware of such activity or presence of counterfeit goods, visit the ACA and report the cases of infringement. Be sure to also put out Television and Newspaper ads to make the consumer aware. With the development and growth of social media, it would be wise to use this tool as well.
Unfortunately, the consumers have always been kept in the dark. I guess we have been left to our own devices. This in my opinion shows how the owners do not value their intellectual property or their brands. Yet, this is their core business.
At the open day, I was made aware of the counterfeit brand of the ‘Lorenzo Instant Shower’. I am faithful to this brand, but when I was explained to the difference between the genuine product and the counterfeit, I was shocked. It seems I have been using counterfeits to my dismay. This now explains why I have been replacing them occasionally. Not to mention the occasional short circuiting. The manufacturers have not made us aware and there is little the ACA can do to help. Unless they lodge a complaint, the ACA cannot help with enforcement.
Factoring in the effects of counterfeiting like health and safety risks and fueling criminal activities, manufacturers and inventors must enforce their brands and actively report infringement through both criminal and civil suits. The benefits to the brand owner are many, one of which is to deter infringers.
The Anti-Counterfeit Act 2008 is here to prohibit trade in counterfeit goods and protect the intellectual property asset owners. It provides for criminal penalties for infringers. On a first conviction, the guilty party can get imprisoned for a term up to five years and a second conviction a term of up to fifteen years.
Brand enforcement is a crucial part in intellectual property management that needs to be embraced in any given business model. Not just for the sake of the consumers but also to realize the full economic potential of any intellectual property asset.
To know more about the Anti Counterfeit Agency: