Curbing counterfeiting or at least circumscribing it in Tunisia is the ultimate objective of the Government. In fact, Tunisia is aware of the need to optimize the respect of intellectual property rights to attract foreign investors.
The question that comes to mind is whether it has chosen, in recent years, to bring legislation in line with international standards. Yet, the challenge consists in bringing practice in line with texts. Indeed, no economic area is spared; the traffic from Asian countries is considerable; the flow of illegal products is facilitated by a very active parallel market.
Tunisia should therefore be vigilant in the fight against trademark counterfeiting. To better understand the situation, Houssam Touti, Manager at the Ministry of Trade and Handicrafts reviews the efforts made by Tunisia in the field.
Which approach Tunisia adopts in the fight against counterfeiting and Piracy?
The Tunisian approach is part of a strategy to promote industrial property to develop this component which is a milestone for development and vector of growth and
technical progress. The approach in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy rests on three pillars: strengthening legal and institutional framework to introduce better
efficiency in operations and alignment with relevant international standards, intensification of economic control activities economic to detect and seize counterfeit goods while initiating prosecution and finally focusing on outreach to ensure a national mobilization.
Counterfeiting in figures?
In practice, the services of the Department of Trade and Handicrafts, in collaboration with other structures, have seized 5,000 items and identified 2000 counterfeit offenses. Regarding awareness, many activities designed especially for consumers
have bee, developed to warn of the dangers of this scourge. These actions are based on the organization of five external campaigns under the form of exhibitions on counterfeiting and piracy and the participation in some thirty television programs and hundreds of newspaper articles.
How do the authorities address this phenomenon?
Intervening sides react according to a comprehensive strategy based on enhancing the legal and institutional framework, empowering control services, broadening their competences in this area, strengthening sanctions and creating support structures.
They are also involved in the intensification of economic control actions that target different sectors of the distribution of a source of counterfeit products to seize them.
Do you think that Tunisia is a producer of counterfeit or a target for counterfeiting rings?
Tunisia was faced with external counterfeiting practices especially from Asia. Its industrial and trade fabric has been affected by these practices which involve national brands. At this level, I can say that about 148 requests for interventions were received by the ministry, 42% relate to domestic products and 58% are foreign products, 29% of which are products made under the sub-license system.
Which structures trademark owners should contact to report an infringement?
Many structures are involved in this field. At the level of registration, trademark owners may contact the National Institute of Standardization and Industrial Property to register their trademarks. Downstream, if they are affected by
counterfeiting practices, they can proceed to judicial civil or criminal actions. They may also call upon Customs to suspend the customs clearance of goods if counterfeit products are from outside.
In this context, they can apply to the ABC offices which are involved in the distribution circuit to seize them.
What prospects do you foresee in the medium term for the fight against
We continue to work on the implementation of the approach put in place
to combat the scourge of counterfeiting. We have, in this context, an ambitious work program within the National Council of Fight against Counterfeiting we are seeking especially to cooperate with neighbor countries.
Could we consider a uniform Maghreb law, as it is the case in Europe, a Benelux law governing trademark law in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg?
Why not? This would be relevant. Tunisia has launched many programs of cooperation and partnership with neighbor countries and stakeholders in this field including the NPO and we have a partnership program at the level of the Euro-Mediterranean zone that includes the axes of the fight against this phenomenon. So why not across the Maghreb?