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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

No shelter for Chinese IP infringers as Special Action Programme strikes home

"Hands up if you think the
Special Action Programme
is doing a good job ..."
While all good Americans are compiling their Watch Lists and all good Europeans are contemplating their border controls, what are all good Chinese folk doing?  The IPKat asked his friend Tom Carver (who has been appearing live this week on Supreme Court TV) if he knew, which he did.  The Chinese have been busy reviewing their Special Action Programme against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting [SAPAIIC? That's another difference between the Chinese and the rest of us, notes the Kat: the US and the EU would have twisted the name until there was a cute acronym for it ...]. As Tom explains:

"Back in November 2010 the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM: that's a better acronym, purrs the Kat) announced with masterly understatement that, despite China making good headway in IP protection,
“due to various kinds of factors, the actions of infringing IP and manufacturing and selling counterfeiting and shoddy commodities still occur now and then”. 
Accordingly, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) launched a Special Action Programme to combat the incidents of IP infringement which still occur “now and then” (you can read all about it here).

The Programme was initially planned as a six-month operation but was extended to last until the end of May, and aimed to
“... launch special campaigns on curbing IP infringement and the manufacture and sales of counterfeiting and shoddy commodities, sternly investigate a batch of serious eye-catching cases related to IP infringement at home and abroad and expose a group of enterprises violating laws and regulations so as to form high-handed posture to combat IP infringement actions; enhance enterprises’ law-abiding awareness, raise consumers’ ability in identifying fake goods, form a sound social atmosphere of consciously rejecting counterfeiting and shoddy commodities and valuing IP protection and positively create good environment for IP protection; strengthen law enforcement collaboration, improve law enforcement efficiency, intensify law enforcement, fully exert the role of administration and judicature protection, and wholly lift the capability of local governments and departments in IP protection and reinforcement of market regulations.” 
A tall order.

A veritable army of enforcement officers
has been deployed to deal with infringers
The results were presented at a press conference on 12 July by Jiang Zengwei, the MOFCOM deputy minister of the Ministry of Commerce and the numbers are spectacular: during the Special Action Programme the SAIC raided 8.048 million business units [goodness, says the Kat: there are more raided business units in China than inhabitants of Switzerland, Denmark or Finland] and investigated 731,000 markets (wholesale and retail), using a total of 3.484 million enforcement officer days in the process [that's not much less than 10,000 officer-years].  These raids resulted in 156,000 cases with a cumulative monetary value of 3.43 billion RMB being accepted by the SAIC, Public Security Bureau (PSB, the police), the Intellectual Property Office and the Copyright Office. Following from those cases local Administrations for Industry and Commerce destroyed 9,135 factories or shelters (many infringers work out of the spare bedroom/shed in the garden/etc, and ‘shelter’ is a term used to describe all such places of work) while the PSB destroyed 12,854 shelters, arresting 29,494 suspects in the process. There are plenty more figures, all available here, in Chinese).

Celebrating these achievements, the Chinese government has created an 'Achievement Exhibition of the Special Operation against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting' website (available in English and Chinese), which includes remarks from Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao emphasising IP’s growing importance in China, and the government’s determination to improve China’s enforcement record. (nb The government has put its own house in order. China's National Copyright Administration reports that all computer software used by the 135 central government agencies was authorised and legitimate as of the end of May).

Whether the unmeasurable objectives of the programme (has no-one at MOFCOM heard of SMART targets?), such as ‘raising consumers’ ability to identify fake goods’, and ‘forming a sound social atmosphere of consciously rejecting counterfeit and shoddy commodities’ (aren’t branded commodities sometimes shoddy too?), have been met is anyone’s guess -- but progress does seem to be being made, at least anecdotally: I can report that the son of the director of the Zhongshan Bureau of IP ‘consciously rejects’ counterfeit goods and upbraids his father for buying them…".
Says the IPKat, bravo! These figures are truly amazing and show a welcome determination by China to nail counterfeiting and IP infringement on the head.  Says Merpel, the thing which enabled these achievements to be so remarkable was actually the sheer scale of IP infringement that was going on in the first place; in the light of these colossal figures, perhaps the victim-assessment figures given by IP owners and relating to loss through infringements, greatly criticised for over-estimating their losses, were an under-estimate after all.

Fake China here

2 comments:

gnstr said...

And after being impressed by these figures, you then read about the fake apple Store: http://birdabroad.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/are-you-listening-steve-jobs/

So, if it were some small obscure brand in East London that had been copied, maybe not so fancy. But Apple, Apple Inc? And the shop is still standing, trading this very moment, as I comment?
Are the Chinese only telling us what they know we really want to hear?

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, these figures rather show how laxist the PRC system is: millions of business units raided and work hours spended for... $400m in yearly fines? Is this a bad joke? Almost 80% of the $500bn worth counterfeits traded worldwide (this is the most conservative estimation) originated from the China?

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