Intellectual Property (IP) infringement is the violation of an intellectual property rights. That is making, selling, using, offering for sale and importing the goods without authorization or permission from the owner or creator of the works.
In Botswana, IP infringement can take a number of forms, and the perpetrators may do so either with full knowledge or without any knowledge that their acts are illegal. Examples of IP infringement in Botswana include:
- copying CDs or DVDs and offering them to the public for sale without the permission of the owner.
- selling any audio-visual work or sound recording without the use of a security device (hologram).
- copying architectural plans and selling them to the public without the permission of the Architect who created the plans.
- Use of photographs in advertisements without the permission of the photographer.
- importing and selling counterfeit clothing, perfumes, handbags or any other product.
- using trademarks without permission to mislead the public as to the quality of the goods being sold.
CIPA is mandated by the Industrial Property Act and the Copyright and Neighbouring rights act to enforce compliance and bring to justice those who do not comply. The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act provides that people who are guilty of infringement may be fined up to P20,000 or be imprisoned for a term not exceeding ten years or both. Upon subsequent or a second conviction, the fine is a minimum of P30,000, maximum of P5,000,000 or a prison term not exceeding ten years or both. In collaboration with Botswana Police, CIPA has this year stepped up the anti-piracy campaigns, with seven raids done in different locations around the country in the past two months alone. CIPA is also continuing to engage with other stakeholders who have a role to play in combating IP infringements. These include among others BURS border officials, COSBOTS, the legal fraternity, Department of Trade and Consumer Affairs, retailers and the public in general.
Owners of Intellectual property also have a role to play in policing the use of their property. They must keep an eye on the industrial and commercial markets in which they sell their products and take action if they notice any infringing activities, whether it is by competitors, retailers or street vendors. The law gives the right holders the right to take civil action against infringers in order to recover their lost revenue and or get the infringing products destroyed.