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Holes Punched Into Counterfeit Bill (2015)

Council Fred Muwema speaking at the Anti Counterfeit Network Africa workshop
Council Fred Muwema speaking at the Anti Counterfeit Network Africa workshop

Experts have punched holes into the Counterfeit Bill 2015 that is currently before parliament.

Speaking at a workshop for Members of Parliament and other stakeholders organised at Metropole hotel in Kampala on Friday, seasoned lawyer and Director Legal and Corporate Affairs at the Anti Counterfeit Network Africa, Fred Muwema said the bill doesn’t take into account the existing laws on counterfeits.

“There is the Trademark Act, Copyright Act and Intellectual Property Act, among others which discuss the issue of counterfeits yet the bill doesn’t take them into account,” Muwema said.

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“Framers ought to have looked at previous regimes of laws before enacting this bill because it is bringing confusion with existing laws.”

He explained that the bill doesn’t empower police on how to enforce the law, which he said would provide a gap to be exploited by those involved in production of counterfeits.

Positives

However, according to Muwema, the bill has some positive issues that can be taken on by parliament and added into the existing laws.

“The bill proposes heavier punishments like increasing the fine for offenders from shs900, 000 in the Trademark Act to 3 times the value of counterfeit goods,”Muwema said.

“Proposing the sentence to increase from 2 years to 10 and 20 years is also good.”

Muwema added their aim is not stopping Ugandans from being innovative but a need to protect them and the consumers against goods that may be harmful.

In response, Hon.Alex Ruhinda, the chairperson for the parliamentary committee on Tourism, Trade and Cooperatives agreed with Muwema that the bill has a lot of issues that need to be rectified.

“There needs to be a mechanism of empowering UNBS so it can be able to check substandard goods produced in the country and those coming from outside, “Ruhinda said.

“We shall go back to see what we can do with the bill.”

Ruhinda however warned that countries like Uganda that are still grappling with technology will find it difficult to develop if they have stringent laws.

“China managed to move from a third world to first world country through counterfeits, we need to consider put own innovators, “he urged.

He said there is need to help local innovators and inventors compete globally other than laws that would suppress them.

The Anti Counterfeit Bill 2015 was enacted by trade ministry and is currently before parliament wait to be passed into law.

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