Thursday, February 10, 2005

Counterfeiting is a serious problem for manufacturers and distributors of merchandise.  Counterfeiting is a global problem and South Africa has during the past few years increasingly been targeted by unscrupulous businesses and organised crime syndicates goods as a dumping ground for copies of well-known brands.  Counterfeiting and copying of famous brands have created real dangers for the individual purchaser, manufacturer and distributor.
If a customer is put at risk buying counterfeit goods, the brand owner or importer loses more than just sales.  Counterfeits eats into the market and undermine the purchasers’ public attitude towards the product and its worth.  Brand reputation is usually built on the back of years of investment in trade marks, advertising campaigns and developing of new products and lines of distribution.  This investment can be quickly threatened if counterfeit goods are allowed to infiltrate the system.  The good name, relationship with distributors, safety record and exclusivity on which the brand owner relies to keep one step ahead of the competition can be badly effected.
The Anti-Counterfeit Unit of Bowman Gilliland Inc. has recently acted against a local importer and has successfully confiscated approximately 15,000 counterfeit CD’s and PC games in one month.  In total, last year Customs & Excise seized a staggering total of R389 million worth of counterfeit goods and our firm played a major role assisting the Custom Authorities.
The South African Revenue Services (the Customs Authorities) have implemented a policy whereby brand holders can register their copyrighted matter and trade marks in order prevent and combat counterfeiting.
Customs have in the past and from time to time reported counterfeit matters us.  This was an informal arrangement between Customs and brand holders.  Customs now wishes to make it a more formal relationship and therefore requires that an application be filed with the Commissioner of the South African Revenue Services (Customs Authorities), which is done by Customs Authorities around the world these days.  The application would be to request the Customs Authorities to search and seize all suspected counterfeit goods bearing your brand(s).
The application form contains your intellectual property rights (copyrighted matter and trade marks).  In addition to the application form a power of attorney is required for our firm to act on your behalf in respect of all seizures by Customs Authorities.  Furthermore, an indemnity is required.  The indemnity merely indemnifies the state (Customs Authorities) against any liabilities as a result of the search and seizure.  The liabilities will include cost i.e. storage, transport and if the matter is defended any legal costs incurred by Customs to oppose such an application.
We will on your behalf complete the application form however we will require you to sign the enclosed power of attorney and indemnity. The original should be returned to us as soon as possible.
Once the application form has been completed it will be filed with the Customs Authorities.  The Customs Authorities will then examine the application and either approve or reject it.  The Customs Authorities will advise us accordingly.
Should you require a memorandum on the procedure after a consignment has been stopped by Customs, we will provide it on your request.
Please note that there is not cost for filing the application.