This could be the watershed moment in how sports merchandising is protected, setting a precedent not just in Uganda but potentially influencing broader international policies against counterfeit goods.
Counterfeits according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to account for close to 3.3% of all global trade and rising mostly in the third world countries like Uganda.
Downtown Kampala is bustling with business on a daily, and much of that involves trade around sports merchandise both for international and local clubs.
One of the top sellers for the traders are the Uganda Cranes jerseys that is unmissable on the shelves of shops. And as the market for local merchandise grows, several other local kits are starting to trickle through.
In a move aimed at protecting the integrity of local sports merchandise, Uganda has fortified its legal framework against counterfeit sports apparel.
14:46 - 25.08.2023
The act has been in development for several months and includes contributions from various sports stakeholders since Budiope East legislator Moses Magogo, introduced it to Parliament in November 2022.
Under the newly enacted 2023 National Sports Act, the penalties for dealing in counterfeit sports merchandise have been made significantly harsher.
Section 66 of the Sports Act states; “A person who imports, manufactures, distributes, produces, sells or offers for sale or trades or displays for sale any counterfeited Ugandan branded sports material, attire, apparel or other item…”
“… Without the authorization of a national sports association or a national sports federation responsible for the sports discipline to which the Ugandan branded sports material, attire, apparel or other item relates, commits an offence.”
While consumers may opt for counterfeit merchandise due to cheaper prices, the practice erodes the revenue streams of legitimate organizations and poses potential risks to consumers.
The Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) which has been the biggest culprit to counterfeits has had regular run-ins with offenders.
But its efforts to tackle the counterfeit market have been mainly inefficient as the culprits have often walked off easy even after apprehension.
And now they can try and bite the vice under the safe blanket of the law which promises severe penalties against culprits.
“A person who commits an offence is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding one hundred and twenty currency points or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both,” the law specifies.
“Court may, in addition to the penalty imposed, order the person to pay the affected national sports association or national sports federation, damages and compensation for the loss suffered by the national sports association or the national sports federation.”
FUFA insists that whoever wishes to sell Uganda Cranes jerseys will only be allowed if they followed the right procedures.
To the traders, the message is clear: Tread carefully, or be prepared to face the full brunt of the law.