Thursday, 10 April 2008

Fake 'CE' toys on sale in SA

Barry Bateman ("Playing with death"), writes on IOL that the lack of legislation in South Africa to ensure that toys are safe exposes children to the dangers of injury or death. The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is willing to test imported and home-grown products; if they are safe, the toys receive a compliance report; those which fail are returned, so that changes can be made to ensure the product is safe. At present SABS tests only about three toys a month, an insignificantly small proportion of the products on sale in the shops.

In March, SABS destroyed thousands of goods deemed unsafe for consumers, many bearing counterfeit CE markings (the markings that the European Commission requires for products that match the European Union's fairly stringent safety standards).

This blogger wonders whether, and if so to what extent, organisations like the European Commission are willing and/or able to police the use of their safety standard marks outside the European Union.


Darren said...

Jeremy, it is possible for the European Commission to take action effectively in South Africa. There are good laws for the protection against false trade descriptions and consumer protection, as well as trade mark infringement if it is registered. SA accepts certification marks too - however, there is quite a significant delay in getting them registered.

Jeremy said...

Darren, when I asked about the extent to which the EC was willing and able, I wasn't thinking of the quality of the SA law -- which I was happy to assume to be adequate even before you assured me it was. What I was thinking of was the resources and logistics involved on the part of the EC in monitoring and enforcing the integrity of the EC marking. Remember, the Commission doesn't make 'CE' marked products itself and, if they are placed on goods that are not intended to be marketed in Europe and have no connection with Europe, the Commission can hardly rely on enraged European traders and manufacturers to tip them off.

Darren said...

Hi Jeremy, I wonder if a form of royalty for use of the CE mark could fund an organisation to take up the helm in protecting it? Is this a practical solution and I wonder if the Commission opens itself up to a claim for not protecting it? Is or should there be a duty on an organisation that creates a safety standard mark to ensure that it is used correctly?