Uganada Revises Anticounterfeiting Legislation
November 23, 2010
On September 27, 2010, Uganda released a new version of its anti-counterfeiting legislation. Older versions of the law had been released previously and were criticized by patient advocacy groups who pointed to provisions that would impede the trade of non-counterfeit generic medicines.
This version seeks to address some of the criticisms, but problems remain.
On the positive side, the definition of counterfeits has improved. Though most countries’ laws define counterfeits as a good that violates trademarks with the intent of deceiving customers, the 2009 version of the bill defined counterfeits as goods that violated “any intellectual property right.” The new version of the law uses the TRIPS definition, defining a counterfeit trademark goods as “any goods, including packaging, bearing without authorization a trademark which is identical to the trademark validly registered in respect of such goods, or which cannot be distinguished in its essential aspects from such a trademark, and which thereby infringes the rights of the owner of the trademark in question under the law.”
On the negative side, the bill still has very stiff penalties such as five year minimum prison sentences for individuals found to be in possession of counterfeit goods. The bill also grants border guards greater powers to seize goods suspected by rightholders of being counterfeits, or to act on their own accord and seize suspected counterfeits. The border provisions alarm health advocates because improper seizures of legitimate generic medicines by border guards have interrupted supply chains of essential medicines.