The above was the subject matter of the 2nd annual workshop by the Anti-Counterfeiting Collaboration (ACC) and the International Trademarks Association (INTA) held in Lagos, Nigeria on the 27th October 2010. The workshop had as its aim, the tackling of the issue of counterfeit goods in the Nigerian market and discussing means and ways to alleviate these problems.
The workshop was divided into three sessions:
- The Brand Owners Perspective
- General Overview and the Regulators Perspective
- The Bar and the Bench perspectives
Speeches and presentations were given by a number of influential individuals in the Nigerian I.P society, including lawyers, judges and brand owners alike. As well as that, a number of foreign guest speakers were in attendance. Most notably, the workshop was chaired by Tee Mac Omatsola Iseli and a speech was given by Victor Guizar of the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
A number of opinions were given through the course of the one day workshop including reasons for the growth in the presence of counterfeit goods in the country, i.e. there is a high demand because they are cheaper and in some cases more easily accessible than their original counterpart. Ideas for reform were also given including the need for more laws to be put in place, better implementation of the laws and more collaboration between agencies who have anti-counterfeiting as their mandate.
Although it was agreed that all the speakers were specialists in their field and full of sound legal and industrial opinions, in my opinion, the cause for concern lies in the aftermath of the event. Two issues come to mind.
First of all, before the close of the event, the view was expressed that it would be disappointing if after the session, no further actions were taken by the ACC and its members and it was stated that something should be put in place to ensure that the actions in the communiqué were taken in a timely fashion. This writer remains hopeful that the reforms suggested will indeed be carried out, and soon.
Secondly, as an attendee of the event, I was encouraged by the number of industry insiders who were willing to speak out on their opinions of the cause of the rapid spread of counterfeit goods in Nigeria; they must be commended for their efforts on the day. What wasn’t encouraging was the minor number of participants who were in attendance just out of interest. One could argue that perhaps the event wasn’t well enough publicized but I feel that the issue of counterfeit goods is still seen as being relatively low on the priority scale and a one- day workshop to discuss the ways to alleviate the problem isn’t enough to get people out of their office (even if there is free lunch involved).
Raising awareness is the current priority of organisations such as the ACC and this writer is full of praise for their efforts. I personally feel that more initiatives such as the ones by the ACC are fully needed.Readers may have noticed the presence of (?) in the title of this posting and the reason is this, i am putting the question to you. So what exactly do you the readers think? Do you think events such as this are useful in raising awareness of the growing menace of counterfeit goods in Nigeria, and also in Africa as a whole?