The House has granted leave to Bugiri Municipality Member of Parliament, Asuman Basalirwa, to introduce a Private Member’s Bill entitled, “The Anti-Counterfeiting Bill, 2023”.
The leave was granted after extensive debate during the plenary on Thursday, last week chaired by Speaker Anita Among.
The proposed Bill will prohibit trade in counterfeit goods that infringe upon protected intellectual property rights and require intellectual property rights to cover only copyright and trade marks and to prohibit the sale of counterfeit goods.
It will also create offences relating to trade in counterfeit goods, empower the Commissioner General of the Uganda Revenue Authority to confiscate suspected counterfeit goods and allow inspectors appointed by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards to do the same.
While justifying his motion, Basalirwa also explained that the current enforcement mechanisms provided under intellectual property laws only provide recourse to court in case of infringement and do not provide administrative remedies that can be accessed through national intellectual property agencies.
He further established the proliferation of counterfeit and pirated goods and services that are distributed undermines legitimate trade, causes significant financial losses for right holders and legitimate businesses, and, in some cases, provide a source of revenue for organised crime.
Additionally, the lack of effective enforcement mechanisms for intellectual property rights holders has negatively affected the exploitation of intellectual property rights and reversed the gains made by Uganda in the registration, creation, and exploitation of intellectual property rights.
“The lack of effective enforcement mechanisms for intellectual property rights has deterred Uganda’s response to new and evolving threats posed by counterfeit products manufactured within and outside the country,” Basalirwa said.
Hon. Jonathan Ebwalu, the Soroti City West Division legislator, and Hon. Derrick Orone of Gogonyo County seconded the motion. However, Government Chief, Hon. Denis Hamson Obua, expressed reservations stating that the Government had not yet scrutinised the Bill.
The Bill was first introduced in 2015 but Cabinet withdrew it on grounds that there were other laws that address counterfeiting goods.
The various laws that the Government cited to regulate the registration and exploitation of intellectual property assets include; the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, 2006, the Trade Secrets Protection Act, 2009, the Trademarks Act, 20l0, the Geographical Indications, Act, 2013, the Industrial Property Act, 2014, and the Plant Variety and Protection Act, 2014.