Counterfeiting & Seizures

Uganda cracks down on counterfeit mobile phones

Uganda wants to drastically minimise the number of counterfeit mobile phones in the country. All mobile phones that are not registered in a special database are therefore to be excluded from mobile phone service in the next six months.

According to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the estimated 6 million counterfeit branded mobile phones currently circulating in the country will be automatically banned from the mobile network by the UCC in the next six months. This will be done by comparing which phones are registered with their international device number IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) in the global database of the GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile-Association), as WTR magazine ‑reported. At the end of a six-month awareness campaign against the use of counterfeits, all mobile phones that are not properly listed will thus be excluded from mobile phone service, rendering them unusable.


With this step, the Uganda Telecommunications Commission (UCC) wants to efficiently complement the conventional possibilities of injured trademark right holders to take legal action against counterfeiters and to initiate seizures at customs stations. Illegal mobile phone counterfeits pose risks to consumers and trademark right holders alike: For users, the spectrum ranges from easily splintered displays to the risk of explosion during the charging process. On the company side, possible effects range from missed sales opportunities to massive image damage.


The UCC hopes that the upcoming shutdown of substandard counterfeits that are not listed in the global GSMA register will improve the situation - for the ultimate protection of all concerned. The authorities in neighbouring Tanzania already caused a stir in 2016 with a similar approach when they banned hundreds of thousands of counterfeit mobile phones and smartphones from the mobile network.


World Trademark Review (WTR)

Article in cooperation with the Anti-Piracy Analyst


Sabine Carrell, International Communications Manager at SCRIBOS

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