Fake goods hit stores

Kea Modimoeng

Kea Modimoeng

Counterfeit goods are no longer just the trade of street vendors, but can now be found in major shopping centres across the country.

Quentin Boshoff, director at Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys - which has a counterfeit division - said the company had recently seized 300 Polo items at six shopping centres, including Menlyn, Cresta and Rosebank in Gauteng.

"Consumers started complaining about the huge gap in pricing between a Polo branded retailer and another retail shop," said Boshoff.

But, the fake goods industry has grown from clothing, CDs, DVDs and computer software and now hits the pharmaceutical and motor spares industries.

"Last year we confiscated 20000 Viagra tablets at customs in KwaZulu-Natal. Pharmaceuticals are highly regulated and are a great concern for counterfeiting," said Boshoff.

Boshoff said most counterfeit goods were seized at customs and "a vast majority comes from China".

Yesterday Bowman Gilfillan associates and the police raided 10 shops in a shopping market in Pretoria where fake Zam-Buk lip care products were seized.

The raid followed an incident on Saturday where a truck carrying 184 thousand units of Zam-Buk was tracked from Pietermaritzburg to Johannesburg. It ended up at a warehouse in Midrand.

"By coming here today, we were also trying to get into the source of these counterfeit products," said Charl Potgieter, from Bowman Gilfillan said.

The minimum penalty for counterfeiters is R5000 per item and or maximum of three years imprisonment.

But, this does not seem to have deterred counterfeiters.

According to computer systems giant Microsoft in South Africa, one in every three copies of its software is used illegally. "Estimates suggest that reducing piracy by 10 percentage points over four years could generate an extra 1200 jobs in the local IT sector, R6billion in local industry revenue and R490million in additional tax revenues," said Charl Everton, anti-piracy manager at Microsoft SA.

The motor spares industry has also been suffering a lot from counterfeiting in recent months.

Automotive products supplier Federal-Mogul recently became aware of counterfeit Goetze cylinder head gaskets being sold by Danny's Automotive at Springfield, south of Johannesburg.

The high court then interdicted and restrained Danny's Automotive from infringing the Goetze trademarks.

It declared that the gaskets seized from the premises of Danny's Automotive were counterfeit and had to be delivered to Federal-Mogul for destruction.

The company was also ordered to disclose to Federal-Mogul the source of the counterfeit gaskets and pay the legal and search costs.