Adams & Adams

Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting


Adams & Adams has the largest team of attorneys and other professional and support staff, including private investigators, dedicated to combatting the trade in counterfeit goods in Africa. The anti-counterfeiting team of Adams & Adams is well equipped to deal with your queries regarding counterfeit goods and can assist you to protect and enforce your intellectual property rights through:

  • Anti-counterfeiting brand protection strategies
  • Search & seizure procedures
  • Lodging complaints with customs authorities
  • Lodging complaints with law enforcement agencies
  • Managing civil and criminal litigation is respect of counterfeit goods
Anti-counterfeiting Strategies

Our team regularly conducts client portfolio reviews to ensure that the necessary IP rights are in place and, if not, recommends ways to fill the gaps.

We make a record of our clients’ well-known, registered and unregistered trade marks as well as copyright protected works for Customs to enable them to easily deal with suspected counterfeit goods at ports of entry. We also conduct in-depth investigations to infiltrate the sophisticated counterfeit goods market and to understand the extent of the problem. Based on the outcome, we devise an effective enforcement strategy within client’s budget, including:

  1. Participating in training of law enforcement agencies;
  2. Conducting in-market surveys or investigations and obtaining test purchases;
  3. Lodging complaints with various law enforcement agencies;
  4. Participating in regular search and seizure operations;
  5. Educating the public through the media to raise awareness of IPRs, counterfeit activities and health/safety awareness ;
  6. Facilitating co-operation between stakeholders nationally, as well as regionally and internationally, such as the WHO, WTO, WCO and Interpol; and
    Instituting civil action and supporting criminal action against counterfeiters.
Counterfeit Goods in Africa

Economic conditions and business environments in general have improved significantly due to decolonisation, urbanisation, withdrawal of unfavourable sanctions, economic emancipation of many countries and rapidly growing middle classes. Research indicates that the rate of urbanisation in Africa is faster than that of any other continent – to the extent that Africa is expected to no longer be considered a rural continent within the next ten to fifteen years.

This demonstrates that there is good business potential in Africa. It is for this reason that multinational brandholders have embarked on expansion plans, profitable to fully exploit their intellectual property potential, increase sales and generate revenue. However, this has also created a demand for counterfeit goods.

Dealing in counterfeit goods is rife in Africa. The fundamental issues experienced include a lack of proper legislative framework, weak enforcement as a result of lack of experience and limited resources. However, these challenges are not insurmountable and there are legal avenues available to effectively address the proliferation of counterfeit goods on the continent.

Over the past few years, counterfeit fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) have developed into a thriving market. One of the main concerns with counterfeit FMCG goods is the health and safety risk posed to unsuspecting consumers. A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that nearly a quarter of pharmaceuticals in circulation in developing countries – including HIV/Aids, TB and malaria treatments – are of a poor and unacceptable quality. Such medication is at best ineffective and at worst, deadly. Counterfeit motor vehicle or aircraft replacement parts also place innocent lives at serious risk. Another concern is that counterfeits have now filtered into the legitimate distribution channels.