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Mon 26 Jan 2009 02:02 PM

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Saudi steps up action on counterfeit goods

Saudi customs officials will be trained in the latest detection techniques after new deal signed.

Saudi customs is gearing up its offensive against counterfeit goods by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a commercial fraud detection company, it was announced Monday.

The MOU between the Saudi Customs Authority and International TradeMark World (ITMW) aims to increase cooperation between public and private organisations in the fight against commercial fraud, counterfeiting and trademark theft.

Under the agreement Saudi customs officials will be trained up in the latest fraud detection technologies as well as being issued with up to date statistics on affected products and brands.

The move comes in the wake of figures that show the parallel global market of counterfeit products is estimated to top $7 billion every year in the Gulf region - with $4 billion being consumed in the Saudi market alone.

It affects industries as diverse as food, consumer goods, auto parts, electronics, electrical appliances, clothing, leather, sanitary, detergents, and medicines, revealed Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Arifi CEO at ITMW, which operates out of the Kingdom.

“The existence of counterfeit products in the market is a challenge to trademark owners, as it undermines the credibility of the brands themselves and is also a serious threat to consumers' health, safety and well-being,” he warned.

Saudi Arabia suffered more risk from commercial fraud and counterfeiting than other countries in the region because of its large market size, added Ibrahim Bin Suliman Al Mousa, director general of administrative development department who signed the MOU on behalf of Saudi customs.

The customs agency was carrying our market studies and tracking fake products and searching for brand infringements, he said.

'ITMW has undertaken to furnish Saudi customs with information on new developments in the field of commercial fraud and counterfeiting, locally and globally, detailed statistics of fake and products,” Al Mousa confirmed.

However, with the growth of globalisation the flow of products between markets had become easier, he added.

Founded in January 2007 ITMW’s activities include gathering information about counterfeit goods and preventing the import and distribution of fake goods across the Kingdom.

The company also undertakes investigations against infringements of intellectual property rights, provides information to relevant government departments and coordinates raids with them to seize and confiscate spurious goods for destruction.

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