Who Protects Registered Trademarks from Counterfeiting? [Archives:2000/35/Business & Economy]

August 28 2000

Radhwan Al-Saqqaf
Aden Bureau Chief
Industrial companies are used to marketing their products in the world after they properly propagate them. Products usually bear specific trademarks that help owners protect their original products from counterfeiting. Such trademarks are registered with the authorities concerned in the country of origin. Registration of trademarks is carried out through a number of procedures. They are firstly registered at the Ministry of Supply and Trade, for it is being in-charge of imports. After approval of the Ministry, trademarks are then published in the Official Gazette. Advertisements, on TV channels, radio, newspapers, through posters, sponsorship of public events etc. are of high importance to popularize trademarks.
Consumers confidence in trademarks is not easily achieved. It needs great efforts including advertisements, distribution of free samples that usually cost millions. To achieve more popularity worldwide, big industrial companies license other companies in other parts in the world to manufacture the same products with the same trademarks in return for some conditions such as importing raw material directly from original companies, allocate a specific rate of income for them, abiding by same standards in manufacturing products, etc. Many kind of cigarettes and beverages of overseas reputation are manufactured in Yemen by licensed local companies.
Amidst the rush to join the WTO, improving and developing local products to match recognized world standard, protecting local products, fighting counterfeited products are necessary. All authorities concerned should bear in mind that consumers protection is the basis for development and protection of others rights. In other words, Ministries of Supply and Trade, Industry and Interior, Yemen Authority for Standardization and Specifications and Customs authority should join hands in this regard.
Recently, there have been numerous incidents of counterfeiting products of famous trademarks and procrastination in trade disputes.
To avoid such a muddle I suggest the following:
– Stopping the flow of imported products of low quality.
– Stopping import of suspicious products which aim at affecting local products for their low prices.
– There should be executive programs to force industries to improve their products.
– Prevention of smuggled goods from entering the country.
– There should be a law to protect trade property as well as organize inspection campaigns of shops selling suspicious products. What is important is the protection of registered trademarks and intellectual properties, especially at a time the country is more aware to attract foreign investors and businessmen. Many businessmen complain of counterfeiting their trademarks or importing counterfeited products. The main question to ask at the end is what is the role of the Ministry of Supply and Trade in the effort for putting an end to such a muddle.