Future Uncertain for East African Community Draft Policy on Anti-Counterfeiting and Anti-Piracy

Daniel Rosenholtz
March 15, 2010

The report on counterfeiting in the East African Community and the proposed anti-counterfeit law that were the basis for greater IP enforcement legislation in several East African countries now stand on shaky ground.  Since its first introduction in the East African Legislative Assembly, the East African Community Draft Policy on Anti-Counterfeiting and Anti-Piracy has influenced other anti-counterfeit laws in East African Community members states.  Notably, Kenya has passed an anti-counterfeit law, and Uganda’s parliament is debating a counterfeit goods bill, that seem largely based on the EAC Draft Policy.  See a comparison of the three bills here.  However, in mid-February leaders in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi said they would not support the East African Community Draft Policy because they fear its definition of counterfeit goods is over-broad and will jeopardize the generic medicines industry.  According to George Baguma, a director of Ugandan generic medicine manufacturer Quality Chemicals Industries Limited, the leaders are concerned with the proposed law’s definition of counterfeits and would like to see the World Health Organization’s definition of counterfeit replace the draft policy’s current wording.  Read more about East African Community members withdrawing their support for the draft policy here.

Despite the statements of East African Community members showing their lack of support, the the East African Community Draft Policy on Anti-Counterfeiting and Anti-Piracy remains en route for a vote before the East African Legislative Assembly.  As of March 10th, the Draft Policy was still under review of a panel of trade experts, a step in the legislative process before a vote in the full assembly.  When the panel might finish its review is unknown.  
 

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