Sri Lanka customs invites rights holders to fight counterfeits

Dec 04, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka customs invited right holders of products to come forward to help authorities to stop importing counterfeit goods to Sri Lanka.

Ashorf Samzudeen, deputy superintendent of Consumer Protection Unit, Sri Lanka Customs said they can fight against counterfeit and piracy only with the corporation of right holders, law enforcement agencies and legal professionals.

“We are at the boarder control to stop importing counterfeit goods to Sri Lanka. But to identify a good as a counterfeit, there should be a right holder of that product,” Samzudeen said.

“They should tell us this is genuine or authentic and this is the counterfeit,” he told a program organized by the American Chamber of Commerce to tackle illegal trafficking of counterfeit goods.

Even though Sri Lanka Customs has ‘ex officio’ power to intercept imported goods, the Customs themselves can’t identify a certain product a counterfeit or not.

“In countries like US and UK there is an operation called ICE. When they are going for a raid they carried with them the Police, Customs and Boarder control, Immigration Officials and Media,”

“We also need joint enforcement for efficient and effective operation,” Samzudeen said.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety.

ICE was created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the former US Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

In Sri Lanka, the customs don’t have a power to act against locally produced counterfeit goods.

“So we need Police and Consumer Protection Authority to arrest them after investigations. But to identify it as a counterfeit again we need a right holder.”

Research estimates shows that between 25 to 30 percent of the medicines supplied in developing countries are either substandard or counterfeit.

Most common counterfeit or pirated goods in Sri Lanka consist of electronic goods, garments, motor spare parts, softwares, cigarettes, medicines and pharmaceutical products including Viagra.

Counterfeit seizure in Sri Lanka is around 8 percent annually.