Video: Why Dubai destroyed and didn't donate fake iPhones, Rolex, LVs worth millions

Video: Why Dubai destroyed and didnt donate fake iPhones, Rolex, LVs worth millions
Ibrahim Behzad, Director, Intellectual Property Rights Management, DED shows fake confiscated goods at the DED Office in Um Ramool in Dubai on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fake shoes with 51,144 pieces worth more than Dh400m topped the list of counterfeit items confiscated last year.


Angel Tesorero

Published: Wed 14 Mar 2018, 4:36 PM

Thousands of fake goods, including counterfeit smartphones, electronic devices, bags and watches were hammered, compressed and shredded by Dubai's Department of Economic Development (DED) on Tuesday to send a "clear message to protect consumers against fraudulent practices."
The Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector in the DED said it has made "remarkable gains in its effort to uphold trademarks and protect intellectual property (IP) by confiscating  around 26.2 million pieces of counterfeit goods in Dubai last year."
The number of fake products confiscated was significantly lower last year (26.2m) compared to the volume seized in 2016 (67.7m) but the net value was slightly higher - Dh1.19 billion in 2017 as against Dh1.16 in 2016 - because majority of the seized products were luxury items, the DED said.
According to the DED, the illegal products mostly come from countries in the Far East. "Luckily, there are no illegal production in the UAE and illegal products are also curbed in their countries of origin," Mohammed Ali Rashid Lootah, CEO of CCCP said. 
Lootah also explained why the DED destroyed the seized items instead of donating them. He said:  "There are certain restrictions in the law - if we donate them, we have to fully hide or destory the brand logo. We had a memorandum of understanding with some brands but we faced challenges removing the logo. For example, we had to open fake Rolex watches or remove LV logos from the bags - it was very costly so we just had to destroy the fake goods." 
"Moreover, by destroying them (fake goods), we are sending a clear message that we do not tolerate such illegal practices in the UAE," Lootah emphasised. 

Fake shoes topped the list of counterfeit items confiscated last year with 51,144 pieces worth more than Dh400m, accounting for 37 per cent of the total value of the goods seized. Tobacco and other illegal smoking devices came second with Dh338.75m worth of products seized followed by bags and leather products. Cosmetics and phone accessories came in fourth and fifth places respectively for a combined value estimated  at  Dh101m. 
Fake phones, watches, fragrances, jewelry and glasses landed in sixth to 10th places for a total of Dh176m illegal products seized.
In terms of volume, fake cosmetics and telephone accessories occupied the first two spots respectively, followed by packing cases, fragrances and construction materials.
Lootah told Khaleej Times, "We are sending a clear message against fraudulent practices. The volume of fake products were less last year but the total value was higher because majority were luxury items."
"Moreover, we have shifted our focus from shops to raiding warehouses. We wanted to go up the supply chain because no matter how many shops we raid, they can only yield hundreds of thousands worth of products but if we raid the warehouses we can confiscate millions, even tens of millions of illegal goods," he added.
Commenting on the efforts by the DED, Munir Suboh, partner and head of IP department at BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates, said: "We are eager to see the enhanced version of Intellectual property electronic gateway.  It was insightful learning from officials the number of seized goods and the value of confiscated goods - it was a very transparent initiative. We are certainly keen to work with DED to control the online trade of counterfeit products, that is available on non-regulated e-commerce websites and social media accounts which are managed or associated with entities that are based in Dubai."
Lootah said there is no law to blacklist the illegal traders - the base penalty for selling fake goods is just Dh15,000 and doubles up for every repeat offense - but by raiding warehouses and seizing millions of products, that can cripple the illegal businesses.
"Consumers, on the other hand, are not penalised for buying illegal products because we believe they are just being misled or deceived by illegal traders The onus is on the illegal traders but we are educating the consumers. Most of them fall prey to the lure of cheaper prices but counterfeit goods pose a threat to their health", he added.
"I call on consumers to report such abuses to DED Consumer Protection through the call center number 600 54 5555, or tour Twitter handle @Dubai_consumers," Lootah concluded.

How authorities seize counterfeit goods  

1) Spotters and investigators do random checks of shops and warehouses. DED also receives consumer complaints
2) DED conducts investigations following complaints from brand companies
3) DED organises raids of shops and warehouses and imposes fines and penalties

Tricks of the trade

According to Carol Halasa from Bayt Al Hikma Legal Consultants, a Dubai-based firm involved in litigating trademark infringement cases, consumers should be wary that they are being sold fake products if transactions happen not in the actual store but at a flat or warehouse and if prices are unreasonably low. But be wary also that prices may actually go higher than market prices because there is no regulation. When buying products online, always check if they are authorised retailers, licensed sellers and genuine brand outlets. If you are getting a good discount, make sure you have genuine contact details. 

Ibrahim Behzad, Director, Intellectual Property Rights Management, DED shows fake confiscated goods at the DED Office in Um Ramool in Dubai on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.
Ibrahim Behzad, Director, Intellectual Property Rights Management, DED shows fake confiscated goods at the DED Office in Um Ramool in Dubai on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

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