In order to spread awareness about consumer rights and duties amongst the business community, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in association with the Brand Owners’ Protection Group (BPG), organised a seminar entitled ‘Consumer Protection Against Counterfeiting’ on Tuesday at its premises.
The seminar, which came as part of Dubai Chamber’s strategic objectives of creating a favourable business environment and supporting the development of business, was held on the sidelines of the 7th GCC Consumer Protection Day marked in the region. It was attended by Dubai Chamber members, businessmen and professionals.
Covering topics related to the role played by the Brand Owners’ Protection Group in protecting consumers, the seminar was addressed by Mr. Abdulla Hasayen, Chairman, Brand Owners’ Protection Group, Mr. Omar Obeidat, Partner Al Tamimi & Company Legal Consultants, and Mr. Omar Shteiwi, Nestlé Middle East - Head of Legal and Compliance.
Ms. Jehad A. Kazim, Director, Legal Services Department, Dubai Chamber, stressed the importance of raising self-awareness amongst consumers, which she said can prevent them from purchasing wrong products. Consumer protection must start at the grassroots level by the consumer protecting himself, his family and the community at large, said Ms. Kazim.
She added that Dubai Chamber regularly organises trainings, seminars and workshops to apprise the business community with the various trade legislations, laws and rights as part of its efforts to serve the business community which ultimately go on to boost their trade and contribute to the economic growth of Dubai, Ms. Kazim added.
This particular seminar stressed on the effective participation of companies in finding suitable solutions to the various counterfeiting problems experienced by the consumers which actually shakes their confidence in the products and also affects the market in the long run, said Ms. Kazim adding that raising of awareness of the subject will augur well for the overall development and competitiveness of Dubai businesses.
Mr. Abdulla Hasayen, Chairman of the Brand Owners Protection Group and Brand Enforcement Manager for Nokia Corporation – Middle East and Africa, stated that trading in counterfeit products is a serious crime, and that the level of awareness about this issue should be raised in order for consumers and businesses to realise the true negative impact of trading or using counterfeit products.
“We would like retailers, distributors, importers and exporters to understand that such products usually do not undergo safety and quality checks, so they pose potential harm to end consumers,” he said.
Abdulla expressed his gratitude to the enforcement authorities, stating that the BPG works closely with the authorities in the region to fight counterfeiting and to raise awareness about it. He called upon the business community to support and invest in anti-counterfeiting initiatives as the impact of this problem touches most industries and disrupts genuine innovation, legal businesses and economies across the world.
Mr. Omar Obeidat, Partner, Al Tamimi & Co, said that protecting consumers against commercial fraud requires combined efforts of both the intellectual property enforcement agencies as well as the brand owners, where the later are presumed to take effective action against counterfeit goods wherever found pursuant to the legal measures provided by the legislation in the UAE.
He further stressed that brand owners ought to enforce their rights regardless of the volume of counterfeit goods they encounter in markets as proper protection of consumers should not be linked to quantitative thresholds.
Mr. Obeidat highlighted the role of the enforcement and judicial bodies which he said is to achieve the purpose of the Law by imposing deterrent penalties against any offender, as seen in the past where low penalties and re-exportation of counterfeit goods have served as merely a slap on the hand, but now the system should rise to the level of impressive advancement achieved by the UAE economy, he added.
Lawyer Omar Shteiwi, General Counsel of Nestlé Middle East, BPG Board Member, said that protecting consumers against commercial fraud is a heavy responsibility on everybody’s shoulder, hence, all stakeholders should bear the responsibility, believe in it and defend it, therefore, it is of high importance for the law to supersede all other issues and deterrent penalties should be executed versus the dealers in counterfeited products.
“Imagine, the size and impact of danger that occurs as a result of dealing in counterfeits toward the consumers’ health and wellness once they consume counterfeited products, especially if we are talking about FMCG including food and medicine, perfumes, cosmetics, households, electronics and appliances and lots of others… there is no doubt that the impact of danger is huge, therefore, we strongly urge all stakeholders not to tolerate and to have a unified stand against the ‘cancer of the century’ and unify efforts with no tolerance in order to prevent this phenomena which is spreading among all sectors,” he said.