Fake or real Nikes? Seychelles steps up monitoring for counterfeit goods

To protect brand owners, local brand representatives and consumers, the Cabinet of Ministers in Seychelles has approved procedural guidelines for border measures to deal with infringement and counterfeit goods entering the country.

The director general at the Trade Division in the Ministry of Finance, Ashik Hassan, told SNA that in Seychelles, we do have an element of importation of counterfeit and infringing goods, and as such, it is important that we take necessary steps to facilitate its control.

Some of the more common counterfeit items include goods branded with well-known names like Nike and Adidas.

The whole situation is alarming because the counterfeit goods affect the consumers as they can pose a danger to human health and also does not give consumers value for money in terms of quality, said Hassan.

He went on to say that the commercial interest of people who own these rights in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, are also affected.

Brought forward by the National Intellectual Property Committee, the new guidelines are intended to help customs officers efficiently implement the law regarding protection of intellectual property at the border.

Falling under the purview of the Trade Division, the National Intellectual Property Committee is responsible for coordinating discussions on intellectual property matters, including implementation and technical and legislative reviews.

Should a right holder -- the person or company who owns a brand or the person or company who represent these brands in Seychelles -- suspect someone of infringement or for importing counterfeit goods into the country, their first step is to contact customs.

After the rights holder lodges an application, customs will have to verify the goods' documentation in terms of the authenticity before any steps are taken. The right holder also has an obligation to advise customs what the defining feature that a brand or product has, allowing customs to distinguish between what is real and the imitation.

Should any irregularities be found, customs officers will have the right to suspend the clearance of the goods.

There is an element of a deposit that needs to be taken from the right holder in the event that subsequent to furthering investigation they find that the goods are not deemed as counterfeit. Custom covers itself in case they are liable for any damages, said Hassan.

Talking about the disposal of any counterfeit goods, Hassan said that auction is not an option. These goods will either be destroyed at the importers own cost or re-exportation.

It needs to be noted that the provisional law only applies to marks and brands that have been registered in Seychelles and to importation that are being done on a commercial basis. If somebody is coming with it in their baggage allowance, that will not be covered, said Hassan.

The general director explains that at times it can be challenging to identify counterfeit goods and his division is hoping that the guidelines will assist greatly.

Talking about the National Intellectual Property Committee, Hassan told SNA that the committee serves as a consultation platform to address issues and challenges dealing with intellectual property. The committee comprises of partners from the governmental, non-governmental and private sectors.

Intellectual property is the protection of creation of the mind � inventions, literary and artistic works. One of the aims of the committee is to sensitise the public not only about counterfeit goods, but on intellectual property in general.

It is very good when you have your services and goods sectors and in order to safeguard these sectors you need to be able to protect your inventions and your ideas so the intellectual property regime complements your goods and services, said Hassan.

This committee also establishes national positions taking into consideration the international conventions relating to intellectual property which the country is party to or envisages to be party to.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

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