Adams & Adams has one of the largest Anti-Counterfeiting teams, consisting of attorneys, as well as other professional and support staff, dedicated to combatting the trade in counterfeit goods in Africa. In addition, Adams & Adams is the only firm with internal investigators based across several jurisdictions, dedicated to pro-actively investigate and assist its clients with effective and sustainable Anti-Counterfeiting measures.

Our team is well informed and equipped to deal with any client queries related to the prevention and detection of counterfeiting as well as the enforcement of legal action across Africa to clamp down on counterfeit goods.

Our Anti-counterfeiting team can assist with:

  • Border enforcement including Customs recordal;
  • In-market investigations, surveys and intelligence gathering;
  • Search and seizure intelligence driven operations;
  • Lodging complaints with border authorities and other law enforcement agencies;
  • Managing civil and criminal litigation in respect of counterfeit goods;
  • Assisting with Regulatory complains:
    • Contravention of the labelling requirements (NRCS Complains);
    • Substandard goods (SABS Complaints);
    • Expired products (Port Health of Department of Health Complaints);
    • Unregistered medicines (SAHPRA Complains); and
    • Pharmacy Council Complains.

Anti-Counterfeiting Strategies

Our team regularly conducts client portfolio reviews to ensure that the necessary IP rights are protected and, if not, recommends ways to fill the gaps. The Counterfeit Goods Act makes provision for enforcement based on infringements of registered trade marks, copyright, as well as infringements of well-known (unregistered) trade marks.

We keep accurate records of all clients’ rights in this regard and ensure that Customs recordals are regularly reviewed to ensure timeous renewals and updating of records. We maintain a very good relationship with law enforcement and ensure excellent collaboration with the authorities to secure apprehension of dealers in counterfeit goods as well as the identification of new trends in importing and moving counterfeit goods.

We also conduct in-depth investigations to infiltrate sophisticated criminal enterprises involved in counterfeit goods trade and to understand the extent of the problem. Based on the outcome, we devise an effective enforcement strategy within client’s budget, including:

  1. Participating in training of law enforcement agencies;
  2. Conducting in-market surveys or investigations and obtaining test purchases;
  3. Lodging complaints with various law enforcement agencies;
  4. Participating in regular search and seizure operations;
  5. Educating the public through the media to raise awareness of IPRs, counterfeit activities and health/safety awareness ;
  6. Facilitating co-operation between stakeholders nationally, as well as regionally and internationally, such as the WHO, WTO, WCO and Interpol and
    Instituting civil action and supporting criminal action against counterfeiters.

Counterfeit Goods in Africa

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 brand holders 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.

Counterfeit goods trade 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.

Our Anti-Counterfeiting team is capable to assist with enforcement in Africa and regularly travel to Southern African, East, West and Central African countries to engage and assist international, reginal and local enforcement agencies with investigation, training and supporting criminal prosecutions.

Contact one of our anti-counterfeiting law professionals

  • Godfrey Budeli

    Godfrey Budeli is one of the partners in Trade Mark Litigation section and is currently heading up the Anti-Counterfeiting team.

  • Jan-Harm Swanepoel

    Jan-Harm is a Senior Associate in the Anti-Counterfeiting Department. He obtained his LLB from the University of Johannesburg, completed his articles and joined the Department of Justice as a public prosecutor in 2007.

  • Cheslin Petersen

    Cheslin Petersen is an Associate in the Trade Mark Litigation department and specialises in civil and criminal litigation in relation to Anti-Counterfeiting in South Africa. He is an admitted attorney and holds an LLB (Summa Cum Laude) degree from the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

  • Michael Lamont

    Michael is an Associate in the Anti-Counterfeiting team, specialising in the training of Customs and Police Officials in Africa on product identification and procedures in terms of the respective countries legislation.

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