DEALERS in African vitenge and khanga have complained about copyright and trademark infringement by manufacturers at Kariakoo in Dar es Salaam.
This has led to the intervention of Minister of Industry and Trade Innocent Bashungwa and the Business Registrations and Licensing Agency (Brela).
The malpractice came to light this weekend as the minister’s delegation, accompanied by Brela officials, toured Kariakoo traders to, among other things, hear and record their complaints for action by his ministry and its institutions.
The representative of traders of textile products, Ms Angela Msofe told the delegation that vitenge and khanga traders had been submitting designs and layouts of their products to manufacturers for production, but in the end the latter produced the products and flood them to markets without the consent and knowledge of the designers.
According to Ms Msofe, vitenge and khanga traders have been coming up with different designs and layouts to be included in the products during production to keep pace with market demand and preference, but manufacturers have been using the designs to produce the products before taking them to their markets by passing designers.
“We investigated and found that these manufacturers own wholesale shops.
Usually, when we submit our designs to them and have to wait for some time before we go back to collect our new products from them, but to our surprise when we take the products to our customers they tell us that the designs are out-dated because the same designs have been supplied to other traders,” she said.
According to her, the situation is a blow to traders as they lose time, energy and income.
They also lose hope, trust and confidence in local manufacturers, which makes them prefer imported products to local ones.
She complained that such dishonest manufacturers hindered the development of local industries since their customers had been avoiding them.
Through their Business Association (JWT), Kariakoo traders also complained about levies, saying most of them stagnated their development and the nation at large, because most traders had been closing down their businesses because of being overwhelmed by the levies.
Commenting on copyright infringement, Brela Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Emmanuel Kakwezi urged traders to register their businesses to protect their copyrights and trademarks.
He said copyright infringement attracted heavy penalties as the culprits would be forced to compensate brand designers.
After hearing the complaints, Mr Bashungwa told traders that he had called an immediate meeting with head of relevant authorities, including Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) and Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) and would take place today.
“We are going to discuss these challenges and come up with immediate solutions. Meeting with traders country-wide will be my routine to facilitate a friendly business environment. Today, I have started with you Kariakoo traders. I promise that all these problems will be solved soon,” he said.