Counterfeiting has the potential to totally destroy a brand as these fake goods are usually cheap knockoffs of the original. This, in turn, causes the buying public to lose their liking for a brand resulting in a massive decline in original sales.
Gone are the days where only high-end fashion brands are counterfeited. It has unfortunately reached a point where any type of product can be counterfeited, especially fast-moving consumer goods, clothing, shoes, and pharmaceuticals.
Like many countries, South Africa has enacted specific laws to assist brand owners to combat these fake goods from entering the country and these already found in the market. The laws enacted here carry harsh criminal sentences for the importers and dealers of counterfeit goods as well as civil sanctions which can assist you in keeping your brand alive.
In order to stop counterfeits from entering the borders, South African Customs assists greatly with searching and stopping counterfeit goods from entering the border of South Africa. This is done by means of a simple application to the Customs Office which advises them of your brands and authorizes them to stop, search, and detain counterfeit goods before it enters South Africa. This is a very inexpensive method to combat counterfeiting as the application is simple and the detecting actions of Customs at the border level are not for the account of the brand owner.
In respect of the fake goods found in the market, the current laws in place allow a brand owner to apply for a search and seizure warrant which authorizes the South African Police Service to enter the premise of a suspected counterfeiter and seize all counterfeit goods, as well as the manufacturing equipment used to make the fake goods. The advantage this method has over traditional trade mark infringement proceedings is that the goods are removed from the market before the formal criminal and civil proceedings commence in our courts.
So, in short, it is a very effective brand enforcement tool to have in South Africa and Africa. It is highly recommended that a Customs Application is filed through your IP Attorney to protect your brand. Your IP Attorney can also assist in applying for search and seizure warrants in the market if these are encountered.