Partner in the Anti-Counterfeiting group at Adams & Adams, Godfrey Budeli regularly uses team sport analogies in describing the purpose and successes of his colleagues’ work. “Why not?,” he counters. “As in football, the success of a team depends on correct team placement, and strong leadership.” It’s his ‘captaincy’ that has once again earned him the titles of outright winner of the Lawyer of the Year 2018 in the category of Anti-counterfeiting – SA, by both the Finance Monthly and Lawyer Monthly publications.
Prestigious awards such as those awarded by Managing IP and Finance Monthly are based on market leading performance analysis and are strictly quantitative – designed to recognise those firms which are consistently delivering the best results for their clients.
Of the award, Godfrey places the focus squarely on his team. “Adams & Adams has the largest dedicated anti-counterfeiting team on the continent. The team is headed by myself and Charl Potgieter. We are assisted by qualified attorneys Jan-Harm Swanepoel, Tayyiba Nalla and Christoff Pretorius.”
Jan-Harm is a former State Prosecutor and his extensive experience in criminal litigation is hugely beneficial. Tayyiba’s understanding of the intricacies involved in online sales of counterfeit goods, through a number of media platforms, is a considerable asset. Through her extensive experience, they have been able to dismantle many counterfeiters’ online presence and track their unlawful activities on the ground. Christoff’s experience in civil litgation has led to a number of successful settlements on behalf of large multinational companies. He has also been involved in the closure of manufacturing facilities producing counterfeit goods locally.
In addition, the team has an impressive complement of experienced paralegals, secretaries and admin staff, all of whom help ensure that our practice runs efficiently.
Economic conditions and business environments in general have improved significantly due to decolonisation, urbanisation, withdrawal of unfavourable sanctions, economic emancipation of many countries and rapidly growing middle classes. Research indicates that the rate of urbanisation in Africa is faster than that of any other continent – to the extent that Africa is expected to no longer be considered a rural continent within the next ten to fifteen years.
This demonstrates that there is good business potential in Africa. It is for this reason that multinational brandholders have embarked on expansion plans, profitable to fully exploit their intellectual property potential, increase sales and generate revenue. However, this has also created a demand for counterfeit goods.
Dealing in counterfeit goods is rife in Africa. The fundamental issues experienced include a lack of proper legislative framework, weak enforcement as a result of lack of experience and limited resources.However, these challenges are not insurmountable and there are legal avenues available to effectively address the proliferation of counterfeit goods on the continent.
Over the past few years, counterfeit fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) have developed into a thriving market. One of the main concerns with counterfeit FMCG goods is the health and safety risk posed to unsuspecting consumers. A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that nearly a quarter of pharmaceuticals in circulation in developing countries – including HIV/Aids, TB and malaria treatments – are of a poor and unacceptable quality. Such medication is at best ineffective and at worst, deadly. Counterfeit motor vehicle or aircraft replacement parts also place innocent lives at serious risk. Another concern is that counterfeits have now filtered into the legitimate distribution channels.
The team regularly conducts client portfolio reviews to ensure that the necessary IP rights are in place and, if not, recommends ways to fill the gaps.
They make a record of clients’ well-known, registered and unregistered trade marks as well as copyright protected works for Customs to enable them to easily deal with suspected counterfeit goods at ports of entry. They also conduct in-depth investigations to infiltrate the sophisticated counterfeit goods market and to understand the extent of the problem. Based on the outcome, Godfrey and his team devises an effective enforcement strategy within client’s budget.