Govt Must Look For A Lasting Solution

New Delhi: | Updated: Jan 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
Corporate captains, on Tuesday, called for larger government participation in laying down laws and policies to combat counterfeiting in the country. Fighting counterfeiting has largely been an industry-driven initiative so far and not a national issue, Pepsico India Holdings executive director (legal) Ajit Yadav said at a conference on Combating counterfeiting: strategy and practice, organised by CII in the Capital.

Expressing concern over the growing menace of counterfeiting, various sectors of the industry demanded high priority to issues of intellectual property rights (IPR), speedy trials and better conviction rate for the related offences.

Due to huge advancement in technology counterfeiting of FMCG goods, processed food, software and copyright goods have become a highly lucrative business but IPR is a low priority issue for the government machinery, Mr Yadav said.

Lamenting the lack of understanding of intellectual property rights issues by the courts as well as law-enforcing authorities, Mr Yadav said everyone companies, government and the consumersstand to lose because of counterfeiting.

Echoing similar sentiments, Hindustan Lever Ltd GM Ashok Gupta said the government must look for a lasting solution rather than just random raids and small penalties.

Personal care industry alone loses over Rs 2,500 crore annually due to counterfeiting, but the counterfeiters are not deterred by small penalties and two-three days of arrest as the monetary returns are huge, Mr Gupta said. According to Mr Gupta, there was a need to have stricter law enforcement and financial backbone of the counterfeiters should be broken by a concerted effort of the government, industry and the consumers.

International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition Inc president Timothy Trainer said the main challenge was to communicate that counterfeiting affects all industries and that enforcing stricter laws is good for a legitimate economy.

Retired IPS and former ambassador to Romania JF Ribeiro in his address focused on the police and judiciarys role in creating awareness amongst the masses that counterfeiting should be looked at as a criminal act.

According to industry estimates, in India the FMCG sector loses approximately 15 per cent to the counterfeited goods with several top brands losing as much as 30 per cent of their business, music industry loses between Rs 350-400 crore annually, and that 15-40 per cent medicines in the country are counterfeits.