Breaking Laws on Brand Names & Copy Rights Asking for Trouble with World Order [Archives:1998/29/Front Page]

July 20 1998

Yemenis routinely break their laws. Nobody seems interested in upholding the law, which is respected only when the individuals and/or groups whose rights are violated are strong and influential enough.
But now, this law-breaking practice has grown to affect people and companies beyond the boundaries of Yemen. Two kinds of violations are especially widespread.
1) Infringing on Brand Names:
In many instances, Yemeni importers fake the brand names, logos and signs of well-known international companies/products. By doing that, they capitalize on the good name and reputation of those brands.
The practice has now moved from imitation to outright full copying.
Let us use an example now in the courts.
Mr. Al-Qawsi of Wadi Bana has copied the patent, design, bottling, packing and packaging of an insecticide product of a German company called BASF. Al-Qawsi had the fake product made in India, packaged/trans-shipped in the UAE – both at a fraction of the cost – given the quality. He is now selling the product to Yemeni farmers as if it were a BASF product.
The Ministry of Agriculture, as the authorizing body for the import, could not explain itself. Confronted with the evidence, the Minister, Mr. Ahmed Salim Al-Jabaly, was shocked and gave strong orders to correct the situation. He ordered the nullification of the import license and the recall of the goods from the market. But neither of the two orders was carried out. Some of his assistants and clerks are implicated.
The Yemeni distributor of the BASF product has taken the case to court, where it is expected to drag on indecisively for a long time. BASF company itself is considering legal action – both against the violator and the ministry. The German commercial attache in Sanaa is also involved.
This is one of many, many violations flourishing in Yemen. What this will do is bring down international companies and their governments on us. Violating patent and brand names is a serious offence, and could lead to many problems for Yemen.
There is another consideration. The government of Yemen wants international investors to come. If it cannot uphold patent and brand rights, investors are unlikely to come. This matter is also important for the IMF and the World Bank which, through the reform programs, want to integrate Yemen into the international market.
2) Copy Right:
It is a well-known fact that both professors and students at Yemeni universities freely copy books and research papers. In Yemen, there isn’t much respect for the academic work of others. Cases of violations at our universities abound. They are not frowned upon, let alone punished.
Let us use examples.
Plagiarism is a commonly accepted practice as researchers ‘borrow’ this idea or that lab result. There are documented cases of full transplants of academic articles and research conclusions.
At another level, the scarcity of books has resulted in the practice of photocopying of books. This happens because the books prescribed as required reading (textbooks), are not available in sufficient quantities. Hence whole-sale photocopying is ‘officially’ sanctioned. The financial loss to authors and publishers is clear.