State's new system to monitor counterfeits, safeguard patents

Anti-Counterfeit Authority Executive Director Robi Mbugua. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) has unveiled a new platform that will monitor intellectual property as it seeks to tighten controls on counterfeit products.

The ACA Integrated Information System (AIMS) allows owners or holders of intellectual property rights to record their products with the Authority as a safeguard against potential infringement.

The system will also allow ACA to scrutinise imported products for any intellectual property infringement.

ACA Executive Director Robi Mbugua said on Wednesday the Authority wants to deal with counterfeit goods at source. “We want to ensure we do not spend a lot of money chasing that cargo when it comes to the country,” said Dr Mbugua.

He was speaking during the second edition of the International Property Protection and Enforcement symposium in Nairobi.

The symposium brought together actors in the intellectual property space to discuss emerging issues affecting the industry.

Intellectual property

He explained that the system would help in case and depot management. It also has an import module and allows individuals to record their intellectual property.

Dr Mbugua said the import module of the system can monitor copyright-related issues and goods brought into the country through linkages with other state agencies.

Depot management allows the ACA to monitor goods seized from the market, which are suspected to be counterfeits, as the watchdog awaits direction from the courts.

“Once the court makes its pronouncement, if it is counterfeit, it is destroyed, if not then it will be returned to the owner,” he said.

Currently, the authority has goods worth Sh1.5 billion in its depot.

The recordation module allows individuals to record their intellectual property for recognition.

Dr Mbugua said the Authority had seized goods worth Sh4 billion since its inception and concluded 205 cases.

Industry Principal Secretary Dr Juma Mukhwana in a presentation by a ministry official detailed how important the fight against counterfeit is to the country’s push to grow manufacturing contribution to the Gross Domestic Product to 20 per cent by 2030 from the current 7.6 per cent.

This is particularly important as the country enters the fourth Industrial Revolution characterised by technology adoption.

“Many developing countries, including those in Africa, still grapple with challenges reminiscent of the first Industrial Revolution era. The gap between these countries and those that have advanced in successful industrial revolutions is widening,” said the PS.

He noted that this disparity underscores the urgent need for innovation in industrialisation in developing regions.

The PS said one of the initiatives by the government to turn the tide includes the County Aggregation and Industrial Parks in each county, which is aimed at enhancing the capacity of the agricultural sector, increasing exports and subsequently foreign earnings.

“This initiative aims to create inclusive and decent jobs, promote productivity at the farm level and increase business incomes. Through this, we are creating a more resilient and diversified industrial base to position Kenya as a hub for innovation and industrial activity,” said Dr Mukhwana.

Goods that are commonly counterfeited include electronics, motor-vehicle spare parts, stationery, food and beverages, gas, movies and music DVDs, and petroleum products. 

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