National Assembly Complex
By Chinazor Megbolu
To help curb counterfeiting and piracy in the country, the House Committee on Commerce is collaborating with the Anti-Counterfeiting Collaboration (ACC) to sponsor a new Bill to that effect.
In a communiqué signed by the ACC Secretary, Ms. Uche Nwokocha, after a stakeholders’ roundtable held recently in Lagos, she stated that a committee would be set up, made up of all stakeholders and relevant regulators and would meet with the House committee members to chart a way forward.
“Registrar of Trademarks, Nigerian Copyright Commission, NOTAP, and Ministry of Justice are to meet in Abuja with the Chairman, House Committee on Commerce, Mr. Sylvester Ogbaga, and request him to help sponsor the Bill, “it said.
The communiqué noted that the IPCOM Bill presently before the House is the bill to set up the lPCOM Commission only and does not include the substantive bill dealing with trademarks, patents, designs, animals, plant varieties amongst others.
The stakeholders also agreed that there should be strong collaborative efforts between the Government, relevant regulatory agencies, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), the Nigeria Police, stakeholders and individuals respectively.
According to the communiqué, the committee will first agree on the content of the bill; whether to merge the bills together or leave them as it is. The committee will then be guided by its Chairman, Ogbaga.
It was also agreed that this should be done in the first quarter of 2013 to avoid stakeholders and relevant regulators any further delays as well as counterfeit goods Bill.
It was also recommended that there should be stiffer penalties in the laws for counterfeiting including jail terms and substantial damages, and creation of standing committees to deal with specific issues like pre-scheduling of meeting dates and times for a six month calendar period.
However, regulators also agreed that areas which need improvement include product registration and market surveillance, lack of funding, logistics, understaffing and sparse geographical distribution, which applies to almost all regulators.
“There is serious lack of support from lawyers as representatives of stakeholders, in the area of new policies being introduced at the Trademarks Registry and the proposed retreat,” it stated.
However, Nwokocha explained that there would be collaboration between regulatory agencies to ensure one voice between them and that they will continue to further collaborate with the House Committee Chairman on the IPCOM Bill.
“ACC will collaborate with wholesalers and retailers to push the counterfeiting awareness drive. Brand owners stakeholders agreed that industry practitioners should look beyond competition and collaborate with each other to fight counterfeiting,” she said.