Bags and shoes are among the top seized products. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News Archi


Heavy crackdowns on counterfeit products by customs authorities is putting immense pressure on smugglers of counterfeit goods and therefore driving down cases of intellectual property infringing goods in Dubai, a customs official confirmed to Gulf News.

Out of the shipments seized between January and September 2016 on suspicion of being counterfeits, around 68 per cent of them were proven to be authentic after investigation, said Yousuf Ozair Mubarak, director of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Department at Dubai Customs.

The decline in smuggled counterfeits indicates the high level of awareness in the UAE among traders that the trading activity of counterfeits is punishable by law, he said.

“This also shows that traders are more focused on importing high-quality goods and not counterfeits, he said.

The drop in the number of shipments seized on suspicion of infringing on IPR over the last two years is also another indication that mostly genuine products are coming through Dubai’s ports.

“In 2014, there were 306 cases, while in 2015, the number of cases dropped to only 135. Around 80 per cent of the shipments seized in 2015 were proven to be authentic,” he said.

“Up until October 2016, there have been only 139 cases. The shipments seized in 2014 were worth Dh36 million, while in 2015, they were Dh16.7 million. In 2016, they had an estimated value of Dh48.6 million,” he said.

Before the IPR department was established, there were more than 750 cases a year, he added.

Mubarak said Dubai Customs is playing a prime role in stopping the movement of fake goods into the emirate, and when products in the shipments are deemed counterfeit following an investigation, they take immediate action by destroying or recycling the seized goods and then fining the importer.

Mubarak warned of the dangers of counterfeit goods, which can come in a range of disguises, adding that it is something the entire community needs to be aware of.

“The top seized counterfeit products have been mobile phones and electronics, followed by watches and sunglasses, auto spare parts, clothing, bags and shoes and personal care products in the last two years.”

Mubarak said the community plays a big role in the fight against counterfeit products when they stop consuming them.

Raising awareness

The IPR department has worked over the last few years to educate members of the community on the health and environmental risks of counterfeits including its impact on the national economy.

The IPR Department is organising awareness workshops and handing out brochures to cruise travellers and other tourists to educate them on IPR and the risks of using counterfeit products.

“Awareness is key in educating people on why they shouldn’t buy fakes. This in return reflects a good image about Dubai and the efforts taken to combat counterfeits.”