The Ghana Employers Association (GEA) has called for the review of the country’s Copy Right Law Act 690, 2005 to save many industries from collapsing in the country.
According to the GEA, the current law does not provide severe punitive measures for individuals who steal or copy others’ inventions or creations.
The Director of Research and Projects of the GEA, Charles Asante-Bempong who raised the alarm bells during a panel discussion in Accra said “the law is not stringent enough to deter counterfeits and pirates from engaging in the counterfeiting business”.
When one is convicted, the copy right law says not less than 500 penalty units and not more than 1000 penalty units.
A penalty unit is GH12 or a term of imprisonment not more than three years. We need to revise the law going forward, he said.
Throwing more light on the effects of intellectual property right on businesses, Mr Asante-Bempong said “It affects businesses because somebody invents a product and has the right to that product. And then some people copy the product and start making money out of it, it kills innovation, it kills imagination, people are not able to continue to innovate because they spend their time to innovate something and someone come and steal it or copy and go make more money than the inventor, it does not encourage people to continue.”
Mr Asante-Bempong, lamented that counterfeiting and piracy undermine the livelihood of creators and innovators, as well as millions of other people working in intellectual property-related sectors.
“Increasing illegal trade activities including counterfeiting on our market are badly affecting the products of domestic producers, leading to significant loss of business and jobs especially in the textile and pharmaceutical sectors,” he added.
Mr Asante-Bempong stated that counterfeit products had affected the nation on different levels saying “For instance, he stated the textile and garment industry which used to employ over 30,000 people in the past is now employing just fewer than 3,000 due to the activities of counterfeiters who pirated Ghanaian fabrics from Asian countries and brought them into Ghana to sell at cheaper price.”
“The local textile manufacturers are suffering. Out of five, only two are currently in operation. They are even producing under capacity because of the activities of pirating,” he said.
A Commercial Officer at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Lawrence Osei-Boateng added that; “as a nation, we suffer a lot from the activities of counterfeiting-we lose investors, potential investors who might want to invest in the textile industry. They will not be interested because of the counterfeiters”.
A Standards Officer at the Ghana Standards Authority, Maxwell Kogbe maintained that counterfeit products are mostly sometimes substandard and advised the public to be cautious about those products.
“Once the product is sub-standard, we will not allow it on the grounds of safety and health implications. So counterfeiting goes hand in hand with standardisation”.
A Senior State Attorney at the Registrar General Department, Mrs Owusua Adansi-Ofori noted that “many people think that because we register copy right we must police it too. “It is the duty of the copy right owner to police it. It is not our duty to do that. “ May be what we can do is that once we give you the certificate supposing that it is textile you come for formal examination then we do the substantive examination for you.”
By Kingsley Asare