Product counterfeiting and brand cloning have been identified as a major setback to the Federal government’s efforts to promote industrial growth and local production. Product fakers are enemies to both the nation and original brand owners. They deprive the genuine manufacturers of market space, loss of revenue, low patronage, as well as cause jobs and employment losses. The end-users and consumers are equally short changed when they buy such products.
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has therefore vowed to check brands faking in order not only to grow the economy of the nation but also protect brand owners. By doing so, local industries doing the right thing would be assisted to grow their businesses, accrue more revenue, employ more workers as well as export their products.
SON says it would be all out to check the nefarious activities of the product counterfeiters via effective collaboration and enforcement. According to the Director General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, product cloning short changes brand owners and the consumers of their hard earned money spent on such products while also having negative impact on the economy.
The Director General stated this during a courtesy visit of the Alaba International Amalgamated Traders Association to SON office in Lagos recently. The SON boss also added that product cloning makes traceability of products difficult should a product fail to meet the minimum requirements of the Nigeria Industrial Standards (NIS).
He explained that going forward, the agency would discourage the registration of any product having a similar business name with an existing brand that hide under the names of successful brands to short change the unsuspecting consumers. “The issue of trademark cannot be handled alone by SON, but going forward, we are going to put a stock of the products we register and certify. Anytime a new product comes and looks similar to another product registered that is already popular in the market, we will try to discourage the registration of that product with such a name so that other products would be identified properly,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Director General, has stated plans to increase its level of engagement with stakeholders in the Alaba International Market, noting that this move by the agency would help protect the interest of the business community while also safeguarding lives and property. He said the standards body would work with stakeholders to sensitize the business community on the need to ensure safety and standards, warning that unscrupulous individuals would be prosecuted if found wanton.
The SON boss added: “We are here to work with them and to make their job easy while also to protect their interest because they are Nigerians employing people and they are doing what needs to be done. We are looking forward to cooperating with them to ensure that every other individual in their association not doing the right thing is encouraged to doing the right thing in the future.”
In his words, “We are inviting stakeholders and the plan is to work together with stakeholders to sensitize them on the need to ensure safety and standards and from there we go to the next level against the stakeholders who are still breaking the rules, we will enforce our law either by court or through appropriate regulatory agencies.”
According to him, SON would reach out to the community through sensitization programmes to highlight the negative impacts of substandard goods on the business community.
“They have promised to work with us and those people who are not doing the right thing would be fished out. The task is for us to continue cooperation, continue openness and to be fair with each other. We want you to be our eyes in the market. Help us make our work easy because we are out here to make you competitive. Let us work together to make this happen as we would be reaching to everyone in the market,” he said.
Also speaking, the Executive Chairman, AIATA, Fabian Ezeorjika, said there is an already existing partnership with SON to achieve a substandard-free market. He reaffirmed the association’s commitment to working with SON to fish out the bad eggs in the market, saying that the association had formed a Joint Task Force comprising of SON officials and currently running a “buyer beware campaign” in the market.
‘‘SON has destroyed a lot of products while some of our members are in court and we are going to increase the level of collaboration with SON because we want to bring an end to substandard goods.’’ He called on SON to encourage local production, saying that this is the surest way to create wealth and job opportunities for the nation’s teeming youths. “We need to create a conducive environment for local production. Importation only creates job opportunities for people we import from. We must create a platform to boost local production,” he maintained.