Anticounterfeiting Committee Co-Hosts Dialogue on Counterfeiting and COVID-19 in India

Published: August 19, 2020

A three-part series recently organized by INTA and government officials explored the impact that COVID-19 has had on anticounterfeiting enforcement in India from the perspective of rights owners, online platforms, and local practitioners.

The South Asia Subcommittee of the Anticounterfeiting Committee partnered with the Cell for IPR [Intellectual Property Rights] Promotion and Management (CIPAM) under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) to host “Awareness on Anticounterfeiting Enforcement in the Wake of COVID-19 Disruption in India.”

On June 10, industry speakers presented on how their brand protection programs adapted and have become more pro-active in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ritika Gairola (CIPAM, New Delhi, India) moderated the session and Pankaj Aseri (Novartis, Mumbai, India), Colette Durst (3M Company, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA), and Kamal Sharma (Procter & Gamble, Mumbai, India) were the speakers.

Each speaker presented an overview of the state of counterfeiting in India. They discussed working with enforcement officials to prevent counterfeit essential items from reaching consumers, as well as managing domain name enforcement. The speakers also shared how they have adapted to social distancing investigations due to COVID-19. They also noted that some processes have actually been made more efficient with the use of video conferencing to authenticate items. The panel concluded by stating that collaboration among stakeholders has increased in response to the pandemic and that they hope collaboration will continue post-pandemic.

In the second part of the series, on June 17, South Asia Subcommittee Chair Tanya Varma (Fidus Law Chambers, Noida, India) moderated a dialogue with Smriti Subramanian (SnapDeal, Gurgaon, India) and Sumit Kapoor (Amazon, Bengaluru, India), who spoke from the perspective of online marketplaces and their response to COVID-19.

Both speakers stressed that protecting consumers from counterfeit goods is a top priority, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, and emphasized the importance of monitoring postings of essential items such as medical devices and masks in order to keep counterfeit products off the platform. In response to COVID-19, platforms have also been heavily monitoring price gouging of legitimate products, they said.

For the final dialogue, on June 24, local practitioners shared their experiences in anticounterfeiting enforcement and how their practices have changed during the pandemic. Abhai Pandey (LexOrbis, South Delhi, India) moderated this session. The speakers, Saif Khan (Anand and Anand, Noida, India), Ranjan Narula (RNA, IP Attorneys, Gurgaon, India), and Shwetasree Majumder (Fidus Law Chambers, Noida, India), noted that on-the-ground investigations of counterfeit goods are harder to conduct as a result of social distancing and, as a result, they have adapted their resources and implemented more cost-effective measures. They also pointed out that COVID-19 has impacted some aspects of litigation, from reduced damages awards, to faster resolution of cases on the court’s calendar. Some experiences discussed included the idea that awards at the conclusion of cases should be donated to a COVID-19‒related charity.

The panelists concluded by sharing predictions on how they thought the pandemic would impact the future of anticounterfeiting enforcement, post-pandemic, such as new technologies that would make investigations easier in light of limited in-person investigations and increased cooperation with local enforcement officials to reduce travel within the country.

The series closed with a recorded message from DPIIT Deputy Secretary Karan Thapar, who expressed his gratitude to all the participants who took time during the month to discuss this important topic.

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