IPDiscourse

Anti-counterfeiting strategies and legal remedies for businesses in Nigeria

Piracy and counterfeiting are two sister-words mostly used in relation to the infringement of intellectual property rights. Piracy refers to the act of reproducing movies, books, or other copyrighted works without permission from the owner. On the other hand, counterfeit refers to fake goods. Counterfeit goods and piracy poses a serious threat to intellectual property rights and the rise of innovation in Africa.
The illicit practice of piracy and counterfeit goods has a negative effect on individuals, consumers, government, and intangible assets. As a matter of fact, this illegal activity has become a full-blown business adventure in many parts of the world. According to OECD, the value of pirated and counterfeited goods moving through the borders of international trade is worth billions of dollars and this further increases the economic wide challenges of trade, foreign investment, international employment and credible innovation.
Counterfeit drugs are a major concern in the Nigeria health sector. Truly, it has eroded the confidence of the public in our health care system, reduced the reputation of the health services in Nigeria, and limits the avenue for foreign investments opportunities that exists within the international community. One significant cause of drug counterfeit is the lack of a strong regulatory landscape. Criminals have discovered that drug counterfeiting is extremely lucrative and of a relatively low risk, and since the chances of being reprimanded is very low, many are encouraged to further propagate this illegal act. Self-medication and increase in the price of drugs is another reason why counterfeit drugs is on the rise. The average person would prefer to purchase drugs by himself from a road side seller without observing well to see if the product is genuine or not. In fact, his decision to purchase the medication from a near-by road seller is also fueled by the cheap price of the product. 
Apart from the menace of fake drugs in Nigeria, the creative industry, information technology industry, media and textile industry (just to mention a few) have suffered. gravely from piracy and brand dilution. It is obvious that if crucial strategies are not implemented through collaborative efforts between private stakeholders and the government, counterfeits will never cease to be a challenge in the Nigeria economy. The growth divergence between prosperous countries and developing nations is the huge investment in data research, human capacity and innovation.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office publishes an annual report on the infringement of intellectual property rights(IPR) in Europe. This yearly report collates the research conducted by the European Observatory on the infringement of intellectual property rights, extent, scope and impact of infringing activity. It provides useful statistics on the volume of counterfeit and pirated goods in international trade. These reports contain useful and helpful information to the government to enable them tackle the issue of counterfeit goods.
There is a clarion call on the entire public, private stakeholders and government agencies to devise regulatory reforms to reduce sale of counterfeits, and effectively enforce intellectual property rights. The business of any viable government in addressing intellectual property rights challenges is to identify thoroughly the existing mediums and channels that foster the production and use of counterfeit drugs within the state, as well as expose counterfeits across international borders before it gets into its territorial division





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