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‘Mystery shopper’ aids Saudi authorities in IP rights enforcement

06 July 2023

‘Mystery shopper’ aids Saudi authorities in IP rights enforcement

The Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property has activated its “mystery shopper” process as part of its efforts to enforce intellectual property rights, the Saudi Press Agency reported last week.

The SAIP published its annual report on 2022 IP rights enforcement in the Kingdom; it showed the authority received more than 1,700 complaints, including those related to copyright and trademarks, representing a 47 percent increase over the total number of complaints received in 2021.

Trademark complaints increased by 490%, while copyright complaints decreased by 37%.

The mystery shopper process feeds the SAIP inspection team with data from undercover visits it makes to commercial enterprises and ecommerce sites. More than 660 visits were carried out to commercial facilities in 42 cities and governorates across the Kingdom, according to complaints submitted by rights holders.

Under the mystery shopper programme, the enforcement team continuously monitors and surveys commercial and electronic facilities to help it control violations and target regions and sectors with inspection campaigns and awareness visits on IP and its rights. The mystery shopper made 1,483 visits to more than 60 commercial malls and shops in more than 20 cities and governorates.

SAIP said that 211 suspected consignments were processed. More than 100 violating consignments were prevented from clearing, in cooperation with the Zakat Tax and Customs Authority. Nearly half – 49% – of the total number of suspected consignments were prevented from clearing because of violating IP laws and regulations, while 995 trademarks with a total of 5.4 million products were prevented from entering due to violating IP laws and regulations in various commercial sectors at many border crossings.

In cyberspace, SAIP was keen to work on enforcing IP for digital content and ecommerce, as the number of reported sites violating IP rights reached 1,909, and the largest percentage of reports – 66% – were for sites displaying and downloading movies and television series.

SAIP confirmed that 12 million products violating IP rights were seized, 58,000 content items violating IP rights were removed, approximately 1,500 copyright-law websites were blocked, and 13,000 facilities were visited during complaints enforcement and field and electronic scanning.

In 2022, the Committee for the Consideration of Violations of the Copyright Protection Law issued 175 dismissal decisions against IP violators, and the total financial fines amounted to 1,468,550 Saudi Riyals (US$391,000).

SAIP has conducted visits to raise awareness among citizens and workers of IP rights to reduce violations among consumers and sellers, with 2,010 visits to commercial facilities in various regions, cities, and governorates of the Kingdom. These visits measured the level of awareness of commercial facilities, and it showed that 66.9% are not familiar with intellectual property laws and regulations, 26.2% are familiar to some extent, and only 6.9% are familiar with laws and regulations.

- Asia IP

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