Crackdown fails to deter pirates despite seizure of 100 million CDs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 12:00am

More than 100 million pirated music CDs were seized in Guangdong last year as authorities cracked down on counterfeiters who took advantage of low costs to set up more production lines.

The figures were revealed yesterday by the director of the Intellectual Property Co-ordination Conference's Guangdong office, Li Zhongduo .

But Chris Bailey, a senior consultant with intellectual property consultancy Rouse and Co International, said although there had been countless raids, they had little deterrent value.

'The enforcement is big in volume, not big in impact,' he said.

Mr Li vowed to continue the fight against intellectual property rights (IPR) infringements.

'Guangdong is determined to fight IPR piracy. It is very important because we have to put the market economy in order and improve the investment environment,' Mr Li said.

The deputy director of the provincial copyright bureau, Guo Xiuwen , said more discs had been seized because of an increase in production capacity.

Setting up a production line cost several million yuan in the 1990s, but as prices had fallen as low as several hundred thousand yuan, some overseas enterprises could afford to operate as many as 200 production lines, Ms Guo said.

'Before we used to only confiscate a few thousand [discs]. Now it's millions or tens of millions,' she said.

Mr Li's report was peppered with statistics on the thousands of raids, millions of products seized and dozens of arrests - but only referred to violators receiving penalties several times.

It said eight people were jailed, including three who received terms of more than two years, and a total of 5.34 million yuan in fines levied on IPR infringers.

Of the 686 total trademark infringement cases involving foreign companies last year, 37 affected Hong Kong trademarks. The biggest victim of trademark infringement was the United States, which has 198 cases, followed by Japan, with 174 cases.

But while Guangdong remains the worst violator on the mainland, awareness of IPR protection has heightened, as reflected by the increase in the number of trademark and patent registrations.

Trademark applications rose 21.2 per cent to 92,729 while invention patent applications rose 30.9 per cent to 8,093, utility model applications were up 13.1 to 14,682 and design patent applications were up 22.5 per cent to 29,426.