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Counterfeit Goods

Counterfeits are fake goods made to resemble the real thing. Common examples are fake watches, sports shoes, and DVD movies. The trade in these cheaply produced counterfeits causes huge losses to the genuine manufacturers and rights holders.

What, perhaps, of more concern is that many products which are counterfeited are safety-critical: car and aircraft parts, life-saving medicines and so forth. All of a sudden it’s not so amusing to talk about the cheap fake that stopped working after a week.

The International Chamber of Commerce released a report in 2011 indicating that the global economic and social cost of counterfeiting and piracy would reach US$ 1.7 trillion by 2015. Opening the seventh Global Congress to Combat Counterfeiting and Piracy, in April 2013, the Turkish Prime Minister emphasised the role of counterfeit profits in the funding of international terrorism….

The Counterfeits Goods Act 19971 is designed to give effect to processes for combatting the trade in counterfeit goods. Administered by the Minister of Trade and Industry, it contains some fairly strong measures.

A. Using counterfeit goods

  1. If you know, or have reason to suspect that goods are counterfeit, it is a criminal offence to have them in your possession or under your control in order to deal in them, for business.2

  2. You may not:

    • manufacture or produce counterfeit goods;3
    • sell, hire them out, or exchange them;4
    • exhibit them for purposes of trade;5
    • distribute them for purposes of trade; and6
    • import or export them through the Republic (except for private and domestic use),7

    and it is a criminal offence if you do.8

B. Inspectors

Inspectors are certain officials and trade representatives appointed to enforce anti-counterfeit measures.9

  1. It is an offence to:
    • fail to comply with any request, direction, demand or order made or given by an inspector;10
    • obstruct an inspector performing his functions under the Counterfeit Goods Act 1997;11
    • fail to give information, or an explanation, if asked by an inspector;12
    • give information or an explanation knowing it to be false or misleading.13
  2. It is an offence to damage or tamper with a seal applied by an inspector to seized counterfeit goods.14

  3. If you remove any goods, documents, articles, items, objects or things sealed or detained at a counterfeit goods depot, without authorisation, you commit a crime.15
  1. As amended; the latest amendment was effected by Act 25 of 2001. 

  2. Section 2(2) read with section 2(1)(a). 

  3. Section 2(1)(b). 

  4. Section 2(1)(c). 

  5. Section 2(1)(d). 

  6. Section 2(1)(e). 

  7. Section 2(1)(f). 

  8. Section 2(2). 

  9. Section 5. 

  10. Section 18(a). 

  11. Section 18(b). 

  12. Section 18(d)(i). 

  13. Section 18(d)(ii). 

  14. Section 18(c). 

  15. Section 18(c).