NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2 – The Anti Counterfeit Agency (ACA) is blaming big firms for inaction, leading to a rise in counterfeit goods in supermarket shelves.
ACA Chief Executive Officer Stephen Mallowah says companies do not report counterfeits infringing on their brands, causing the increase.
“If they do not report cases of counterfeit trademarks for their brand, they give a chance for the rise of counterfeiters,” Mallowah told Capital FM Business.
He said until brand owners formally complain, there is nothing the agency can do.
He said firms fear that launching a public counterfeit campaign will result to bad publicity.
“But on the other hand if your brand has been counterfeited and people notice the change they will still switch anyway,” he said.
He said the agency is planning to involve firms in various industries in a collective campaign against counterfeiters in the next few months.
“In this way, firms will safeguard their brand as this collectiveness will not have any bad publicity,” he assured.
Mallowah revealed that the agency is working at stopping counterfeit goods getting into the market through the Mombasa Port.
“We want to make Mombasa port unsuitable entry point for counterfeit goods, we have partnered with the international police and Kenya Ports Authority,” he said.
Mallowah also asked international firms to register with the agency for their trademarks to be protected.
He revealed that the agency’s limited resources are not helping the situation and the increasing crime is weighing them down.
“We have very few inspectors and we are underfunded and this is inhibiting the fight but we are doing the best we can,” he said.
He urged Kenyans to be on the lookout for the counterfeit goods.
He revealed the most affected sector includes cosmetics, electronics, spare parts and household products and Kenyans should be wary.
On Saturday, the Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) accused ACA of not doing its work.
“ACA no longer proactively carries out meaningful mystery inspections; they only conduct investigations after a public outcry. Even then, the quality of such inspections is hardly satisfactory. Results are never shared publicly,” the body stated.
East Africa loses over Sh1.3 trillion in revenue annually from product imitation according to Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA).
TMEA says there has been a tremendous influx of different imported products on the market since the East African Community integration.
These imported products face various quality and standard related challenges that have greatly affected the business environment in East Africa.
Counterfeits have threatened the future of several manufacturing companies in the region due to price wars in addition to discouraging investors.