Your brand is the way you distinguish yourself, how you stand out. You have spent a great deal of effort on diligently building equity around a product of a unique quality and style. It has been well received by your customers and now you are proudly conquering markets beyond your borders. But with business booming, a new threat looms at the horizon: counterfeiting of your brand and products.
A quick briefing on the threat of counterfeiting
The practice of counterfeiting has grown tremendously in the last few decades and is now considered the crime of the 21st Century. It makes brands lose valuable markets and income, and causes the loss of jobs, as counterfeits are often produced by low-income workers, under very inhumane conditions, and without any regard for minimum labor standards. Counterfeiting has also been associated with high product risk and even such things as the financing of terrorist activities. While counterfeiting is booming in all product categories, it is undeniably most prominent in the fashion and luxury segment.
So how do we fight counterfeiting? By protecting our brands wherever we go.
Brands are protected per market and product category, so the most imperative step in protecting your brand is registering it in all the markets you operate in. Though not all, currently 189 countries are members of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. WIPO’s mission is to lead the development of a balanced and effective international intellectual property (IP) system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all. You can consult the Madrid System of WIPO to check whether a brand is registered in a market prior to entering that market. It is best to do this with the aid of a legal expert on brand registration in the market you want to operate in.
In Curaçao brands are registered at its renowned Bureau for Intellectual Property (BIP) with more than 115 years of experience in trademark and patent registration, both locally and internationally (through the Patent Center in the Netherlands).
Evade the threat by distributing from a safe location
Entry to small markets, like those in the Caribbean Basin, can be very cumbersome if your goods are sold and distributed out of a destination with a high risk of counterfeiting. Countries around the world are making ever-greater efforts to protect their citizens’ rights to authentic goods. In 1994, the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) signed the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS.) TRIPS is an international agreement administered by the WTO that sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property regulation as applied to nationals of other WTO Members. Commerce and transshipment of counterfeit goods is against this Agreement.
In 2011, Curaçao included ‘commerce and transshipment of counterfeits’ as a felony in its penal code. Also, the Minister of Economic Development installed a multidisciplinary committee to advise on eliminating counterfeiting and the trade in counterfeits from the economic zones of Curaçao. And in May of 2014, the Minister and the Curaçao Industrial and International Trade Development Company (Curinde) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) in order to provide economic zones where intellectual property agreements and laws are strictly enforced.
Through this multidisciplinary approach, consisting of law enforcers, the Public Prosecutor and Curinde, and with the cooperation of international entities such as the IACC, Curaçao works consistently to respect and protect intellectual property, offering brands a safe business haven in its economic zones.
Thinking about branching out to this region? Consult Curinde today!
Contact Curinde to discuss how to expand your business into the Caribbean Basin, while protecting your most valuable asset, your brand.