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Editors' Forum | Report them, please! - Authorities beg for information on counterfeit products being sold in Jamaica

Published:Thursday | April 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis
ASP Victor Barrett inspects a counterfeit pair of Nike sneakers that was confiscated from a store in downtown Kingston.

The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) and the police Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Branch (C-TOC) are appealing to Jamaicans to report when and where they have been sold 'knock-offs' or counterfeit goods.

Addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week, executive director of JIPO, Lilyclaire Bellamy, said once a customer suspects that an item they are trying to purchase, or they have purchased, is counterfeit, they need to make a report to the authorities so the items can be removed from the market.

"The consumer has a critical role to play in intellectual property enforcement. If you buy a product, for example, a track shoe, and something goes wrong with it, you need to let us know, because then we will get in touch with C-TOC and say to them, 'you know this store in Half-Way Tree, somebody bought something there and it's not the original', because sometimes, unfortunately, a legitimate enterprise might be involved and they don't even know," said Bellamy.

Assistant Superintendent of Police in the Intellectual Property Unit at C-TOC, Victor Barrett, says for the consumers' safety they need to properly inspect the products they are purchasing.

"Follow your gut. if you look at a product and you don't feel right about it, don't buy it. Second, look at the packaging. as a customer, you have a responsibility to yourself to examine what you are buying. you look at the labelling, you look at the spelling, at the language, look at the colour, look at some of the logos how they are affixed to the product, whether they are pasted on or moulded, so these are stuff you look for," Barrett told the forum.

He noted that the counterfeit industry amounts to almost five per cent of world trade, and it is very difficult for law enforcement to police the industry without the help of consumers.

"The counterfeit industry is very clandestine, and if you don't have real intelligence or you tap into the operation it is very difficult for the police.

"Just like every other crime, without the cooperation of the citizens we can't effectively police. The disposable income, the issue of liking brands, the affordability are part and parcel of what fuels the trade, so you have push and pull factors," said Barrett.

C-TOC seized counterfeit item valued at $1.2 billion last year and $615 million so far this year.