On Tuesday, March 14, 2017, Brunei took its first tentative steps toward ridding itself of counterfeit products when three branches of a local department store were simultaneously raided in Bandar Seri Begawan for over 1,000 counterfeit razors and razor blades products.
The raid for the counterfeit consumer goods, believed to be the first anticounterfeiting action in the sultanate, was carried out by 26 Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) officers from the Commercial Crime Unit, including three Crime Scene Unit teams, in response to a complaint filed by the relevant trademark owner.
The targeted shops were alleged to be selling counterfeit disposable razors and razor blades bearing an international and well-known brand. If convicted, the alleged perpetrators would be facing up to five years’ imprisonment and a maximum BN $100,000 (US $72,000) fine under section 100 of the Trade Marks Act, Chapter 98.
During the raid, the police officers seized 1,106 of various imitation products, while representatives from the Brunei branch of Singapore-based law firm Harry Elias & Partnership LLP (HEP) observed and assisted in the operation.
The raid was also in line with the RBPF Commercial Crime Unit’s move to expand their operations in order to more aggressively crack down on traders peddling counterfeit products and enforce intellectual property laws in the country beginning this year.
At the same time, HEP had also been expanding its IP portfolio in recent months as it looks to increase its IP-related activities in the oil-rich country.
With the Bruneian government eager to woo foreign direct investment in recent years in an effort to diversify the economy away from its heavy dependence on the oil and gas sector, the move toward clearing out branded fakes currently perforating through the local market could be seen as a vital step in increasing the attractiveness of Brunei as a potential destination for foreign companies while also raising confidence among local consumers.