The Counterfeit Goods Act: protecting corporate interests at government expense!
The Counterfeit Goods Act protects the interests of trans-national corporations like Nike. The state spends public resources to implement it through raids on downtown sellers of alleged fake goods (when there are so many other burning priorities that the police cannot deal with as they are under resourced). Indeed ‘brand representatives’ from companies such as Nike have accompanied the police on the raids in the Joburg CBD this week.
The Act is also a convenient cover for government to ‘cleanse’ the inner city of informal traders so buildings can be sold for regeneration projects to profiteering developers. To gain support, the government whips up xenophobia by accusing foreign nationals of selling fake goods so ‘all of us’ think ‘all of them’ are law-breakers that should be thrown out of the CBD and the country. In reality, offenses committed under the Counterfeit Goods Act by apparel retailers have absolutely no impact on any of us whatsoever. But never mind that, it’s a law and if we suspect it’s been broken we can blame the foreigners for being criminals and use the Counterfeit Goods Act to raid and get rid of them.
Meanwhile our economic policies allow for cheap (not fake) goods to legally enter our market and as consumers of course we like paying less for cheaper things. But we’re also barraged by corporate media and marketing to make us like brand names even more. Illegal trade can develop when we see more affordable (fake) Nikes and we like them too! and fake goods are only ‘illegal’ because trans-national corporations strong-arm and bribe governments to implement laws like the Counterfeit Goods Act. So the trans-national corporations benefit from the Counterfeit Goods Act by making states pay to protect their products but they also benefit from the illegal trade that emerges –thousands of feet walking around Joburg in takkies with their logo – a self-perpetuating free advertising service for their brands which makes us want them even more.
At the same time cheap imports have helped destroy local industries and increased unemployment. Yet when ordinary people try to take advantage of this so called ‘free market’ by making a living through trading cheap imports, the Counterfeit Goods Act is invoked to criminalise them. The state then conducts raids, using excessive force and often corruptly confiscating stuff that is not ‘fake’ but is never returned (contrary to what’s stipulated in the Act). Finally, the state is ready to spend even more money (if the rubber bullets don’t do the job) on prosecutions, detention and deportations. All thanks to the Counterfeit Goods Act which exists to serve the interests of global corporates!
Facebook post from Bobby Moses.