The African continent remains one of the major markets where intangible assets remain the least protected in comparison with the strength of sales and service delivery in a continent undeniably emerging. The Continent is still a sanctuary where the wrong sometimes takes the place of the real in countries the purchasing power is not yet proven, this again because of legislation, practices or still too permissive actors.
The counterfeit market in Africa is not limited to pharmaceuticals. Tobacco, high-tech products, luxury goods, food … all the fabrications of traffickers mostly from Asia are sold mainly in Africa, continent where the permissiveness favors the flow with a population not yet hardened, continent where companies are still reluctant to protect their rights.
Fortunately, many national jurisdictions have introduced new customs provisions to improve border control. Moroccan Law No. 23-13, amending and supplementing Law No. 17-97 on the Protection of Industrial Property in Morocco is a striking example of these new provisions:
This innovation of Moroccan law of intellectual property allows the owner of a registered trademark or the beneficiary of an exclusive right of exploitation (Franchisee, exclusive distributor …), to file an application for suspension of the release of goods for free circulation suspected to be counterfeit (identical marks or marks similar to the applicant’s mark which may lead to confusion.)
Thus, a request for suspension filed with the Central Customs Administration, makes it possible to request the suspension at all ports of entry and exit of Morocco, of any products likely to infringe rights acquired prior.
- Subsequent procedures: Suspension of counterfeit goods and actions by customs:
- Once the request for suspension is filed and accepted, a note is sent to the various border posts in Morocco, ordering the customs officers to suspend any import or export containing counterfeit suspected products.
- In the case of an alleged infringing mark, a notification is sent to the representative of the proprietor of the mark.
- The applicant has a period of 10 working days from the date of notification, to produce Order of seizure applicable to the goods subject to the suspension of release for free circulation.
This procedure allows the proprietor of the mark, in the first place, to make an effective seizure on the goods to guarantee the suspension of the free circulation and then to continue the procedure before the court by proceeding to a legal action. Through this legal action, the holder of the goods has the right to ask:
- The destruction of seized goods;
- The award of damages (Approx 5.000 Euro)
- Publication of the judgment in two local newspapers, one in French and one in Arabic (at the expense of the other party).
Inlex Africa accompanies you with the Central Administration of Customs of Morocco for all your requests for suspension.
Term of protection: 1 year (from the date of acceptance of the application)
|For one trademark||€600 a year|
|For each additional trademark||€450 a year|
|To get the official extract of the trademark||€150|
Jean-Philippe AKANI, Certified OAPI Counsel
Franck SOUTOUL, European Trademark Attorney Inlex Africa