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Strict enforcement of laws to check fake products urged

A Staff Reporter
Filed on May 7, 2006

DUBAI Traders and legal experts have called for strict implementation of the UAE's trade mark and copyright regulations to drive out peddlers of fake goods.

Ridding markets of the fake goods and the presence of roaming vendors selling cheap knock-offs door to door would enhance Dubai's reputation as a business hub and tourist destination.

Dubai general traders interviewed by Khaleej Times complained they were unaware of any law that protected their products from being copied. Most said once a product was registered with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it should be protected under the law automatically.

A trader in Meena bazaar, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cited the example of big cities like Singapore "where laws stipulate the immediate arrest of individuals found trading in or selling fake products."

Legal consultant Murtada Majed said that UAE government has enacted a series of initiatives to enhance the enforcement of trade mark and copyright regulations and to fight counterfeit products within the country. "But legislative framework should be developed to deal with counterfeit and pirated goods phenomena which invaded the country during the last few years," he urged.

"There should be some practical exercise for the UAE Customs team, probably in the ports of Dubai, who should work alongside international customs experts. They should have knowledge of intelligence and risk management in counterfeit products and product identification/examination techniques. They should make initial visits to many countries to have practical experience in the customs environment," Majed suggested.

A senior representative of an internationally renowned watch brand said in an interview recently the only positive thing about fakes is that 'only successful products are copied.' Copies otherwise give rise to a lot of misinformation about the genuine item and spoil its reputation in the market.

And while there are various trade organizations devoted to combating counterfeiting, the noted, "It is not possible to stamp out the problem owing to the global spread of the phenomenon." He said the only approach left for those affected by the fakes is to keep evolving and developing their original creations to make them to difficult for the counterfeiters to copy.

A representative of Rotana Foods, a company that develops, processes and packages food products said, "Though we are not aware of any law that protects products of companies from being copied, we can always report any noticeable discrepancies to the DCCI, and when there is a problem in the foodstuffs, the complaint is lodged with the municipality. When we register a trademark, the idea is to stop the product from being copied so that only genuine products are made available to consumers."

Lucille Ong, President of the Philippine Business Council (PBC), said the UAE government implemented the Trademark Law which protects direct manufacturers from having their brands copied or reproduced by other manufacturers. Trademarks have been used by manufacturers not only to distinguish their goods from their competitors but to also facilitate easy recall of product identity by a target market.

Ong said that aside from consumables, branded consumer products are the most frequently copied because they have a ready market that is willing to buy them. "Some people these days no longer care if they have a fake Louis Vuitton bag or a fake Prada wallet as long as they have the 'branded' product which they can get for a fraction of a cost of the original," the Filipino businesswoman said.

She believes the primary reason why such products can be seen on some shops is because people are still buying them. "Nobody's complaining.

The original manufacturers are not suing these traders and people still go out buying them even if they know that they are fake," Ong commented.

On a local level, a joint operation by Dubai Municipality, Dubai Police and Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) aims to weed out elements involved in the sale of counterfeits. The operations has led to the seizure of hundreds of fake products including accessories, cosmetics etc, which are subsequently destroyed by the once the people selling them have been subjected to action, which can include jail and deportation.

Officials at the Dubai Economic Department said the department was continuously revising the list of violations and relevant fines and penalties for trademark infringements and sale of counterfeit products in order to maintain the deterrent effect.

"Intensifying procedures by doubling and tripling the fine amount according to the number of recurrences, closing the shop/store after second violation instead of after the third, carry out organised and random inspection campaigns at all hours of the day in addition to inspections based on complaints by owners of trademarks or their representatives," said the official.

The regulations of the Economic Development Department in Dubai

The penalty on importation, bringing in, buying from unlicensed vendors, or selling of fake counterfeit goods in the markets of Dubai starts from Dh5,000 (1st violation); DhI5,000 (2nd violation); Dh201,000 (3rd violation).

  • The Penalties Marketing of counterfeit goods bought from the local market and sold in the local market are Dh500 (1st violation); Dh5,000 (2nd violation); DhI0,000 (3rd violation).
  • Sale of attached goods that are kept in the violator's warehouse for future action is Dh5,O00 (1st violation); DhI5,000 (2nd violation); Dh20,000 (3rd violation).
  • Refusing to sign the samples form, the attachment order, or the confiscation papers is Dh1,000 (1st violation); Dh2,000 (2nd violation); Dh3,000 (3rd violation).
  • Manufacturing, offering for sale, or selling packaging materials or containers to be used for sale of counterfeit goods/ products or goods that are unfit for human/animal use or for sale of farm or industrial products isDhI5,000 (1st violation); Dh30,000 (2nd violation); Dh50,000 (3rd violation).
  • Possessing for sale of goods of no country of origin or supporting documents is Dh5,000 (1st violation); DhI5,000 (2nd violation); Dh20,000 (3rd violation).
  • Inserting misleading commercial information on the sold/offered for sale foods, or on the shop, or on the packageis DhI0,000 (1st violation); Dh20,O00 (2nd violation); Dh30,000 (3rd violation).
  • Use or possession for use of measurement or weight tools' device such as scales, weight etc. bearing misleading or inaccurate measure or having been manipulated or is DhI5,0O0 (1st violation); Dh20,000 (2nd violation); Dh30,000 (3rd violation).
  • Effecting modification on weighing or measuring tools or which may render them inaccurate is DhI5,000 (1st violation); Dh20,000 (2nd violation); Dh30, 000 (3rd violation).
  • Sale offering for sale, or dealing in any way in any gold products that are not affixed with an official stampis Dh2O,000 (1st violation); Dh30,000 (2nd violation); Dh 40,000 (3rd violation).

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