The Sunday Mail
Local industry has raised concern over the proliferation of fake products, as well as product imitation, which they say is damaging their brand and robbing manufacturers of potential customers. A number of individuals and companies are actively producing counterfeit products and forging brands in order to capitalise on established brands.
Companies are occasionally facing brand piracy and imitations of their products. This involves a different company copying the product name, label, idea or the actual product of another company, which subsequently results in confusion among potential consumers.
African Distillers (AFDIS), a beverage concern, which manufactures, distributes and markets branded wines, spirits and ciders for the Zimbabwean market is reportedly victim to the shenanigans.
AFDIS head of trade Author Kamusoko confirmed that the company has been facing product imitations of their whiskies, especially the “Two Keys” brand by individuals in Mbare.
“We have encountered situations whereby some impersonators collect our bottles and make fake liquor, which they sell in Mbare.”
Some economic analysts have argued that while it might be good for innovation by entrepreneurs, the backyard product imitations will affect the operation and performance of victim companies.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Henry Ruzvidzo said the respect for industry norms are slowly being abandoned.
“The problem is widespread. Self-restraint and the respect for industry norms has largely been abandoned. We are concerned as research and development efforts are wasted and market share compromised. Whilst patents and patent enforcement can be employed, a lot of the copying happens at a level where this is not an option.
“Copying is nothing new to innovative creators; however, as a country, we have been seeing growth of clever imitators out there. This has risen to a level where people find it normal and acceptable, even though it is hazardous to their health and as well as it comes with cheaper prices than the original counterparts. Such products are made of lower quality components in an effort to keep a lower price than the original product,” said Mr Ruzvidzo.
Economic analyst, Langton Mabanga echoed similar sentiments, claiming that product imitation is preferred tool for upcoming business people, but it becomes a challenge when it has a negative impact on the consumers and on the original business. He urged companies to take measures to curb imitation of brands and products.
“There is a very fine line between the development and upsurge of entrepreneurship and potentially infringement of intellectual property rights; that also need to be enforced and controlled,” he said.
“Time and effort spent in research and investigation into the issues should become a priority in both companies and governmental bodies for copyright protection.
“As with many problems, if they can detect potential imitators, they can act accordingly to deal with them. By doing so, they will prevent losses and many problems faced by consumers ,” added Mr Mabanga.