Dubai: The Brand Owners Protection Group (BPG) on Thursday called on judges to jail counterfeiters in order to help end the trade in fake goods.
"We don't want fines. Counterfeiters should get severe penalties, like an imprisonment of one to three years," BPG Chairman Omar Shteiwi told Gulf News. "If violators are just fined, they don't care if they will get caught. They just repeat the crime."
Shteiwi, who is also the regional intellectual property adviser for Nestle Middle East, said the UAE has adequate legislation that is on a par with global standards, but authorities need to be more strict when it comes to the implementation of anti-counterfeit laws.
Omar Obeidat, partner of Al Tamimi & Co Advocates & Legal Consultants, earlier said most of the criminal judgments issued by courts against counterfeiters are mere fines that range between Dh5,000 and Dh10,000.
For instance, in a cigarette raid in the UAE involving 9,241 cases of counterfeit Marlboros valued at $7.5 million, a fine of only $2,750 was imposed on each of the accused.
"In most cases, the penalties are light. We need to put a strong message that we're serious about our campaign... that counterfeiters will go to jail. We really need to eliminate this problem, not only because brand owners are losing their market share but because it affects all stakeholders," Shteiwi said.
Enhancing legislation on counterfeits and piracy will be highlighted during the Fourth Global Cong-ress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy, to be held for the first time in the Middle East from February 3 to 5 at the Mina Al Salam Hotel, Dubai.