TEXT: The Directorate of IPRE South, along with the Directorate General of IPRE and the Directorates of IPR, North and Centre celebrated The World IP DAY, on 26 April 2021. In line with WIPO program; and the theme of this year, i.e. IP and SMEs the Directorate of IPRE is playing a critical role of facilitating free flow of legitimate imports, while keeping a check on counterfeit, fake products to promote foreign direct investment, and SMEs.
On this occasion the Directorate arranged Awareness Seminar with women business entrepreneurs in FPCCI; a zoom training session with ten major international brands for custom officers all over Pakistan. As well as a press conference with the TV channels, along with their visit to our counterfeit gallery.
Due to high tariff rates, especially on all luxury items, like perfumes and toiletries, the department has witnessed a sudden surge in import of hazardous counterfeit products, making them available to the public at much cheaper rates; as well as import of empty cans and bottles of all famous brands. Curbing the menace of import/export of counterfeit products is an uphill task, but one against which we are all geared up, and vow to make a positive impact on the chain supply.
This year our focus is on health and safety, the biggest hazard of counterfeit consumer goods is that they are extremely detrimental to our health. For e.g. the most widely imported and used fairness cream has mercury in its ingredients, its counterfeit has excess of mercury which peels away the skin and causes cancer. Fake N-95 masks, can cause COVID-19 itself! A fake copy of the toothpastes and tooth brushes especially formulated and manufactured for sensitive teeth can damage sensitive teeth permanently. Another dangerous item, is eye lens, counterfeit copies are manufactured under unhygienic conditions and may carry fungus. When worn on eyes, they cause fungal infection on retina of eye and this can lead to permanent blindness.There is apprehension that counterfeit cosmetics may be made of industrial grade paraffin oil instead of cosmetic grade, this again causes cancer. A better option is to buy the same products which are made in Pakistan.
The items we are focusing on are the most frequently imported and most dangerous, high risk counterfeit items.
The unaware consumer buys these infringed products at a lower price thinking he has struck a good bargain and saved some money but instead ends up risking his health and safety. That is why rule 686 of SRO 170(I)/2017 allows the Director to put a hold on any such consignment/GD on which there is an apprehension of carrying counterfeit goods.
With electronics and computers, auto parts, the risk is multidimensional and consequences even far reaching. Replacement parts of Steering wheels without airbags, give the driver the false sense of security that he is safe. But God forbid, if he is involved in a car accident, the absence of airbag causes death.
Counterfeit electronics, cause a dent in the pocket of the buyer and when that AC, LED, FRIDGE, WASHING MACHINE does not work at all. The financial loss suffered by a middle class citizen in these pandemic ridden days is colossal.
This is only one side of the picture and shows how an average Pakistani suffers when he buys a fake/counterfeit item.
The other side reflects the loss of FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT coming to Pakistan. Discouraging genuine registeredimporters/exporters, and SMEs.
Entrusted with a myriad of functions and responsibilities, our biggest and most immediate concern is health and safety hazards. As responsible officers and a vigilant force, under the guidance and leadership of our Chairman, Member Customs, and Director General IPRE, we keep a regular check on import and export of counterfeit products; and discourage such nefarious activities. Despite of the onslaught of Covid-19, this Directorate, the Director General of IPRE, and the Directorates have also conducted meaningful public awareness sessions, capacity building, and training to promote IP protect ion and enforcement in Pakistan. We are committed to fulfilling the mandate assigned to us in terms of border IPR controls. The IPRE South shall continue to work with its national & international stakeholders to make a success of it.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021