Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Afro Chic

Pay a little more, hurt a little less - Sale of counterfeit goods highlighted by social activist

Yusuf Abramjee, a leading social activist based in South Africa pictured alongside, recently published this article in which he bemoaned the state of the economy on account of the widely-prevalent social ill of the peddling of counterfeit goods. Abramjee indicated that South Africa loses R100 billion (around $5,5 million) a year due to sale of these goods, which could be used to improve basic services for the poor and vulnerable members of our society.

The effects of the sale of counterfeit goods are indeed far-reaching and require a targeted and specific approach. Afro-Chic will examine the scope of the problem and its overall impact on economies holistically as well as upon the average man on the street who may not know that his desire for a bargain is ultimately contributing to poverty and inequality.

First we have to ask ourselves what problems the sale of counterfeit goods are. Abramjee outlined the social issues but these are a knock-on effect of other underlying catalysts. An article by Williams (2018) provides a useful summation in this regard, citing that, loss of economic activity and revenue of a country and worldwide, supporting the illicit market, that genuine and legitimate employment is lost, that innovation is discouraged and that foreign investment is lost.

Statistics surrounding sale of counterfeit goods vary across different sources. A very reliable source perhaps is the World Trademark Review, which drew its numbers from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union Intellectual Property Office and their respective reports on the matter done in 2013 and 2016 respectively. Their statistics relate to trades made across borders globally (as opposed to nationally, which represent higher figures such as the R100 billion of which Abramjee describes) and the figures provided are projections forecasted for 2022. Some of them are the following:

• Total international trade in counterfeit goods: $991 billion
• Total value in counterfeit and pirated goods: $1.9 trillion- $2.33 trillion
• Displacement of legitimate economic activity: $980 billion- $1.224 trillion
• Estimated reduction in foreign investment: $231 billion
• Total wider economic and social costs: $155 trillion- $1.87 trillion
• Total Employment losses: 4.2 million-5.4 billion

As is clear from the above, urgent steps must be taken to address the issue surrounding the sale of counterfeit goods. As pointed out by Nkateko Mabasa (2018), it is also a cause of xenophobia in South Africa, with a counterfeit goods operation leading to a violent uprising in 2018. Abramjee proposes numerous solutions in the South African context. These include:

• Campaigning and advocacy surrounding the issue
• A tip-off line 
• Proper funding for specialised units dealing with this issue

Constant vigilance is required to ensure that this problem is eradicated the world over. We must all work together to ensure that we do not support those dealing in counterfeit goods so as to ameliorate the plight of the poor. It is through honesty and integrity and yes, the pains of paying a little extra for an item or two, that we can ensure our economy is not subjected to the plight projected above.

Afro Leo agrees, "It is notable that the effect of counterfeit goods has the attention of one of Africa's leading social activists elevating the awareness of the problem from an esoteric one known only to those in the fields of brand protection. As we know on this blog, the issue is Africa's single largest IP problem. Thanks Yusuf and Afro-Chic for highlighting it in a social context"

Brought to you by Afro-Chic

Afro Chic

Afro Chic

Subscribe via email (you'll be added to our Google Group)