Afro Leo had the opportunity today to discuss trademark enforcement in Africa with some very knowledgeable trademark practitioners as part of the International Trademark Association Annual Meeting. A particularly interesting part of the discussion involved attorneys from Nigeria and Zimbabwe sharing ideas about government agencies that can assist in trademark enforcement.
Government agencies can provide benefits to the regular trademark office because of their different regulations. The agency regulations may allow seizures to happen more quickly than the trademark office’s procedures or proceed with investigations in another way.
The main agencies mentioned as useful in assisting in trademark enforcement were customs agencies, agencies dealing with product standards, food and drug agencies and consumer protection agencies. All of these agencies have a stake in the quality of goods and can therefore be useful in dealing with subpar counterfeits. One drawback: most of the agencies cannot help when the counterfeit goods are of high enough quality to meet national requirements.