Policy changes could eliminate counterfeit products in 2011, says customs chief
The enforcement of signed trade treaties, and the passage of several bills in Parliament focused on intellectual property rights currently being considered by the government, will essentially remove counterfeit products from the Bahamian marketplace by next year, the comptroller of the Department of Customs said yesterday.
Glenn Gomez toldThe Nassau Guardianthat there currently is no mandate to prevent counterfeit products from passing through customs and into the retail market.
“Our laws really doesn’t speak to that at this time,”he said.”But we’re doing some amendments and we’re a part of some of the treaties that the country has signed[that]will be enforced next year.”
Some straw vendors complained on Wednesday when the government announced that no counterfeit goods would be allowed to be sold in the new straw market.
Public Works Minister Neko Grant added that when the market is opened next year, only Bahamian manufactured good would be allowed to be sold in the facility.
Esther Thompson, head of the vendors association, was upset at the product restrictions announced on Wednesday.
She insisted that vendors should be allowed to sell anything that could be cleared through customs.
Gomez said, however, that if the companies holding the original patent for the items in question make a formal complaint about the counterfeits, customs would be forced to stop the importation of the products.
“If someone is counterfeiting goods, and we get information from a manufacturer that their product is being duplicated or manufactured, it will dictate that we have to look at the borders and these things coming in and we will have to confiscate them,”he said.
“Someone will have to notify us. If Gucci makes a report, we would look for that and if it came in we would stop it.”
Fox Hill Member of Parliament Fred Mitchell said the government should first educate the public on the issue of intellectual property rights instead of passing, what he called, an edict.
“It’s a serious matter and it requires public eduction. And it may come to a point where you have to issue some sort of edict, but you can’t expect that, given the way the society is being operated, you won’t have some kind of row.”