DTI says intellectual property theft a growing concern

25th April 2008 By: Matthew Hill

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will start research to scientifically measure the extent of intellectual property theft in South Africa, and an official said on Friday that anecdotal evidence was that the problem was growing.

The problem was also becoming more visible, which helped to generate a response, DG Tshediso Matona said.

He said that there were a number of factors contributing to this, but that the South African Police Service (SAPS) was making progress, having already made a number of arrests.

"We will only really know how effective we are, especially with regard to counterfeit goods, if we have a scientific measure of the scale of the problem," Matona said in an interview in Pretoria.

"Anecdotally, it is our impression that the problem is growing."

He said that before South Africa was reintegrated into the world economy after apartheid's isolation years, the police had "never worried about" intellectual property as a type of crime.

However, after democratisation in 1994, counterfeit goods had become more prominent in the country.

Matona said that this had led to a gap forming in the enforcement of intellectual property protection, which led to the DTI engaging the SAPS to promote awareness of these crimes.

The department also forged partnerships with the South African Revenue Services, and the National Prosecuting Authority to this end.

"It's a partnership that has only just started, but we are happy that the problem has now achieved recognition," stated Matona.