Earlier this year, the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Egypt put into effect new regulations in an attempt to control the importation of counterfeits into Egypt. If you are a brand owner that currently has goods imported into Egypt, you must comply with the new regulations as soon as possible to avoid having your goods detained at the border.
Under Resolution 43 of 2016, trade mark owners or manufacturers of certain regulated products are now required to register with the General Organization for Export and Import Control (GOEIC) before exporting their products to Egypt. Products such as cosmetics, clothes, foodstuffs and soft drinks, toys, and household appliances fall within the regulated list. Without having the required record in place at the GOEIC, imported products will not be released into the Egyptian market.
Typical documentation required
According to the regulations, the following documents must be provided to the GOEIC:
- A delegation letter from the brand owner appointing its legal representative or agent to register at the GOEIC on its behalf.
- A certified copy of the brand owners Certificate of Incorporation.
- Trade mark registration certificates in the name of the brand owner, along with a list of products manufactured under the relevant trade marks.
- A certificate from the brand owner listing its authorised importers and distribution centers that are allowed to supply its products to Egypt.
- A certificate that the brand owner applies a quality control system issued from a recognised body, certified by one of the accredited bodies from the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), or the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), or an Egyptian or Foreign governmental entity approved by the competent Minister of Foreign Trade.
Trade mark registrations
To fully comply with the regulations, the brand owner must be able to provide copies of the products trade mark registration certificates. This provision will therefore be problematic for brand owners that have not yet registered their trade marks in Egypt, and in particular for smaller businesses that may not have the resources to pay registration fees.
At present, it can take almost 18 months for a trade mark to reach registration in Egypt provided that no objections are raised by the Trade Marks Office and no oppositions are filed by third parties. Evidence of applications filed will not be accepted in lieu of registration certificates, although evidence of a house brand registration certificate is currently serving as an interim measure until the individual product names are registered. As a result, brand owners and local importers could face serious financial losses and delays to importation if a trade mark portfolio is not up to date. As a first step, brand owners should therefore assess their registered protection in Egypt and file as necessary, applications for product names that are imported into Egypt but do not currently have registered trade mark protection.
If your trade mark protection is in place but your local Egyptian importer has not yet raised the new regulations and sought your cooperation to comply, it is imperative to start the registration process as soon as possible. While provisions in the regulations do allow the foreign manufacturer to register with the GOEIC, brand owners should take responsibility for anything involving their trade marks, entrusting their legal advisors to complete the necessary formalities.
Although completion time of the registration procedure was originally 2-3 weeks, it is currently taking between 8 and 10 weeks as a result of internal structural changes, and the mere backlog of applications submitted. Brand owners should therefore act as soon as possible to avoid any negative impact to their business. We would also caution thatas the regulations are still in their infancy, the associated procedures are likely to develop over time.
If you are a brand owner currently importing or planning to import goods into Egypt, we can assist in the recordation process with the GEOIC. In addition, we can file any trade mark applications that may be required to complete the formalities. Please feel free to get in touch should you require further advice in relation to the new regulations and how they may affect your business.