Stakeholders in the industry sector have called on the Federal Government to update and strengthen the country’s legal framework against counterfeiting to enhance economic growth and safeguard lives of the citizens.
They spoke at a press briefing to mark the World Anti-Counterfeiting Day themed: “A Cry for Help” on Wednesday in Lagos.
The stakeholders spoke under the aegis of Anti-Counterfeiting Collaboration (ACC) Nigeria, a non-governmental coalition with the aim of bringing brand owners, individuals, and enforcement agencies to fight against counterfeiting and piracy.
The ACC has over 100 companies as its members across different sectors of the economy.
In his remarks, Mr Desmond Adeola, the Chairman of ACC, said that there was need to update the country’s intellectual property law to support and improve creativity, innovation and economic growth.
According to him, the existing intellectual property law operational in the country is obsolete and its penalty does not serve as deterrent to counterfeiters and pirates.
Adeola, who is also the Head, Brand Protection, Unilever Nigeria, said that the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies in Africa, lost about two per cent of their profits to counterfeiting.
“We know that our country is susceptible to dumping and do not have strong laws to guard against counterfeiting and piracy,” he said.
Adeola said that a recent report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed that imports of counterfeit and pirated goods worth about half a trillion dollars yearly.
He urged the Federal Government to strengthen its economy against counterfeiting.
According to him, there is need to strengthen the enforcement agencies, deepen collaboration between the private sector and government institutions and improve consumer awareness toward winning the war against counterfeiting.
Adeola noted that government’s efforts to improve the nation’s business clime would be fruitless without appropriate laws to protect the intellectual property of the organisations from counterfeiting.
Adeola also urged the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment National Assembly to speed up the transmission of Intellectual Property Commission (IPCOM) Bill before to it to the National Assembly for early passage.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Intellectual Property Commission had on July 9, 2001 submitted the draft bill to the ministry for presentation to the National Assembly as an Executive Bill.
Adeola said that early presentation of the bill to the lawmakers and its early passage would protect the assets of business organisations in the country.
“There is no better way to protect local manufacturers than providing the enabling law to protect their intellectual property,” Adeola said.
The bill seeks to modernise and harmonise the protection of intellectual property in Nigeria as far as trademarks, patents and designs are concerned.
Also, Mr Olaseni Ashiru, the representative of Johnson & Johnson Company, said that efforts to attract foreign investors might be frustrated in a business environment that does not have updated laws against counterfeiting.
“Brands suffer reputation damage, economic loss and consumers are exposed to health hazards; many foreign investors will not come to the country, knowing that their intellectual property will be exposed to these risks,” he said.
Commenting, the Chairman, Entertainment Foundation, Omatshola Iseli, also known as Tee Mac, said that piracy was hindering the potential of the entertainment industry to reach the world and contribute meaningfully to GDP growth.
“How can Nigerian artiste be empowered when illegal download, transferring of intellectual property through bluetooth is the order of the day in our society?
“We need laws with stiff penalties and enforcement to serve as deterrents to offenders and to protect against dearth of the industry, because entertainment industry in Nigeria is almost dead,” he said.