Fighting Counterfeiting in Nigeria

Fighting Counterfeiting in Nigeria

Halliday Finch was recently carrying out IPR enforcements for a client in Lagos, Nigeria, in order to hit the illicit supply chain of IT related products.

The following case study shows just how challenging this market can be.

Counterfeiting Enforcement Case Study Nigeria

One of Halliday Finch’s unique offering is their strong working relationship with local law enforcement agencies (LEAs).  This task was carried out with Halliday Finch working alongside the LEA, who themselves were supported by a formally obtained search warrant.

First attempt:

As soon as the search and breaking order was issued a group of men arrived at the a cluster of product completion centres (PCCs) causing a loud and violent disruption.  As the team were leaving the area a large crowd had gathered and and the area had become volatile, very quickly and the team left empty handed.

A second attempt was made to visit the premises to carry out the enforcement with increased numbers of police a number of weeks later.

Counterfeiters Fight Back

By the time this visit took place the owners of the local outlets were waiting for us. They had prepared countermeasures to ensure the lawful enforcement activity of the police and Halliday Finch was not a success, these included:

  • Mobilising a legal team to raise claims, about Halliday Finch’s right to operate in Nigeria which were of course quashed
  • Calling in support from a local gang ‘The Area Boys’ to prevent law enforcement from removing the illegal stock
  • Preparing an anti-police online campaign which was widely distributed via social media claiming that police were coming in to the market and “stealing” stock from innocent people just trying to make a living.

Events Escalate

As tempers flared and the situation escalated rapidly; police made the decision to withdraw from the seizure.  By this time a large crowd had gathered outside the premises and it was impossible to use the enforcement vehicles to move away because they were blocked in by increasing amounts of traffic and bystanders.  The police and the HF team moved to the local police command centre. On return to the scene, a number of vehicles had been vandalised.

Considerations when Running Counterfeiting Enforcement Operations in Nigeria

Authentication and seizure operations can be challenging anywhere, however there are specific challenges that should be taken into consideration when planning brand protection operations in Nigeria:

  • Avoid multiple attempts at enforcement over a short period of time, as this gives the suspects time to prepare their resistance because they know another enforcement is about to happen
  • Be prepared for a legal challenge to your firms right to be operating on behalf of the brand
  • Prepare for publicity campaigns launched by the suspects and their supporters online, aimed at discrediting either your firm or law enforcement agents
  • Plan for potential challenges exiting the scene as crowds and traffic build-up
  • Acknowledge the presence of “violence for hire services” on offer from gangs to challenge police and enforcement activities. Counter this by making sure the scene is checked prior to deployment to ensure no build-up of gang members in a nearby location.

The Future of Brand Enforcement in Lagos

The challenges currently being faced by the police in Lagos are significant. Whilst the public opinion is against the police, Halliday Finch believes it is currently not safe to carry out enforcements to seize illegal stock. We have therefore taken the decision to temporarily suspend enforcements in Lagos until the police have regained the balance of power to an acceptable level.

Operations and enforcements continue as normal in Port Harcourt and Abuja.

When Lagos enforcements resume, they will continue to yield a very high return on investment for our clients, so this is not a market we can ignore.  Lagos as a city, has the forth biggest economy in Africa.

Halliday Finch will continue targeting the distribution network, down to storage facility level. Once this information has been gathered, they will move forward in well prepared, rapidly executed, well protected and simultaneous enforcements, as part of our commitment to fighting counterfeiting in Lagos.

If you have any queries with regard to brand protections activities in Lagos, Nigeria or anywhere else in Africa, please do not hesitate to contact us at: