Wednesday, 1 October 2008

South Africa: latest piracy raids

Kea Modimoeng writing in the Sowetan quotes Bowman Gifillan's Charl Potgieter and Quentin Boschoff and Microsoft's Charl Everton on the continuing rise in counterfeiting in South Africa. Counterfeit goods are no longer just the trade of street vendors, but can now be found in major shopping centres across the country. In the past few days, Quentin and Charl have completed successful raids for POLO and ZAMBUK products and their firm is involved in police raids at a rate of ten per month for 2008. The minimum penalty for counterfeiters is R5000 per item and or maximum of three years imprisonment. But, this does not seem to have deterred counterfeiters and according to computer systems giant Microsoft in South Africa, one in every three copies of its software is used illegally.

As this blog has repeatedly reported, piracy is a huge concern on the continent and, as the article comments, the law is not functioning as a deterrent. However, whilst there may be justified calls for tougher penalties and better IP laws this does not appear to be the answer, certainly not the only answer. In fact, RSA has legislation that makes it fairly easy to obtain warrants (often without notice) and, as the raid rate suggests, the police are generally co-operative. The problem is multifaceted. Africa is considered a dumping ground for fake goods and run offs and there is demand because consumers are either not concerned about the fact that they are buying fake products or worse (particularly in case of pharmaceuticals) they are genuinely deceived. Brand owners can play their part too - Microsoft's latest drive to slash prices of genuine goods in Kenya is such an example.

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