Monday, November 26, 2007

Uganda and Kenya ready to finalize intellectual property protection statutes as East Africa struggles with counterfeiting crisis.

SOURCES:—“East Africa: Counterfeits Upset Regional Markets”—“East Africa: Region's Manufacturers Threatened By Counterfeit”

Counterfeit versions of both foreign and domestic products are appearing en masse in the marketplaces of East Africa. The counterfeits are given names similar to well-known or local brand names and often designed to resemble the same. Products affected cover a host of goods—from car tires to pharmaceuticals.

State officials claim that the counterfeit trade is costing national governments hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue year; they assert that these lost funds could be used for social programs to assist the poor.

Both Uganda and Kenya are in the final stages of drafting statutes to provide greater protections for intellectual property interests. Also, the East African Community (EAC) and Investment Climate for Africa (ICA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to step up efforts to control counterfeiting and piracy in the East Africa region earlier this month.

In addition to the loss of revenue, concern over the counterfeiting problem in East Africa has been voiced by the World Health Organization (WHO) because of counterfeit pharmaceuticals that threaten the safety of African consumers.

State officials in East Africa blame domestic businesses for the majority of the problem. They contend that the willingness of domestic business interests to import counterfeits has made the problem worse. They further fault domestic businesses for having failed thus far to cooperate with the government to stop counterfeiting.


Is the private sector responsible for cooperating with the government to stop counterfeiting?

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