KSA parallel counterfeit brands market close to US$ 4 billion p.a.
Saudi Customs Authority has signed an MOU with International Trademark World, a leading KSA-based organization engaged in the fight against commercial fraud, counterfeiting and trademarks protection in the Saudi Arabia. The MOU aims to increase cooperation between public and non-government sectors in the campaign against commercial fraud and counterfeiting. The agreement was signed by Ibrahim Bin Suliman Al Mousa- Director General of Administrative Development Department - Saudi Customs Authority, and Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Arifi Chief Executive Officer - International Trademark World Company.
“This MOU has been signed at the direction of His Excellency Saleh bin Minaih Al Khiliwy, the Director General of Saudi Customs, as he personally believes in the importance of cooperation and integration of roles between the public and private sectors. It is our strong desire to share and take advantage of diverse areas of expertise and skill sets various organizations have built. This will be critical in our pursuit of our common goals of protecting our country against negative impacts of counterfeiting. This is important to protect ourselves from all kinds of adverse effects - economic, health and financial,” said Ibrahim Bin Suliman Al Mousa. “We have chosen International Trademark World as a partner primarily for its experience in the fight against fraud, and also because it represents a number of brands affected by this phenomenon, and therefore shares our concerns.”
This MOU envisages provision of technical consultancy by ITMW to Saudi Customs in the field of commercial fraud and counterfeiting, including providing early information on spurious goods as well as training and expertise on identifying fakes from originals, across various product categories.
“ITMW has also undertaken to furnish Saudi Customs with information on new developments in the field of commercial fraud and counterfeiting, locally and globally, detailed statistics of fake and bogus products, brands affected, such as Nokia, Toyota, Mercedes, BOSCH, Mazda and others,” said Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Arifi, Executive Director - International Trademark World. “We are conducting market studies, monitoring and tracking fake and counterfeit products, and traveling across the Kingdom in search of brand infringements on an ongoing basis. Founded in January 2007 with 5 offices in Saudi Arabia – including technicians and specialists, we consider it our responsibility to inform authorities about any illegalities we encounter in our work across the country.”
Arifi pointed out that with the growth of globalization, the flow of products between markets has become easier, which has also facilitated counterfeiting and trade of fake products by unethical traders. This has made matters critical, needing urgent measures for trademark protection within every market. The parallel global market of counterfeit products which is estimated at more than 700 billion dollars, 50 billion in the Arab world, 7 billion annually in the Gulf region, and 4 billion consumed in Saudi market alone, now affects industries as diverse as food and consumer goods, auto parts, electronics, electrical appliances, clothing, leather, sanitary materials, detergents, medicines and several others.
“The existence of counterfeit products in the market is a challenge to trademark owners, as it undermines the credibility of the brands themselves and is also a serious threat to consumers’ health, safety and well-being. Such practices cause potential loss of profits for both the manufacturer and importer,” he added. “Saudi Arabia suffers more risks from commercial fraud and counterfeiting than other countries in the region because of its large market size, which is very attractive to counterfeiters. This also prompted the government to set up the Consumer Protection Society, which has played a complementary role with others such as Saudi Customs and Ministry of Commerce and Industry to fight against this phenomenon.”
ITMW’s activities include collection of information about counterfeit goods and control imports of these commodities through mechanisms developed to detect and control goods and containers across all ports of the Kingdom. The company also undertakes investigations against infringements of intellectual property rights, provides information to the relevant government departments and coordinates raids with them to seize and confiscate spurious goods for destruction.
Through its work, the company aims to protect consumers from safety and health risks and financial losses resulting from the use of fake products. ITMW does this through awareness campaigns and dissemination of information at the community level that focus on the adverse effects of the use of such products. This also helps protect the nation from economic risks associated with counterfeit goods, including protection of business trademarks.