Beijing to step up crackdown on fakes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2007, 12:00am

Twenty joint operations planned with FBI

In renewed efforts to counter the mainland's thriving counterfeit industry, Beijing has vowed to pursue more joint cross-border criminal enforcement operations, a top public security official said yesterday.

Addressing the China Forum on Criminal Intellectual Property Protection in Shenzhen, Gao Feng , deputy director of the Ministry of Public Security's economic crime investigation department, said Beijing would co-operate with Washington on at least 20 new cross-border counterfeiting and piracy cases this year.

The countries have teamed up since 2005 in an operation, codenamed Summer Solstice, which has led to the arrest of 25 people and the seizure of more than 290,000 counterfeit software CDs and certificates of authenticity on the mainland, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation said. The contraband had an estimated retail value of US$500 million and about US$2 million of the counterfeit software products were seized in the United States.

The public security ministry and the FBI identified more than 14 major producers and distributors in Shenzhen allegedly making high-quality counterfeit software products that were subsequently distributed throughout the world.

US authorities said 70 per cent of the counterfeit products were shipped to America.

Mr Gao said Beijing would also call on other countries to take part in joint cross-border efforts to counter criminal breaches of intellectual property rights (IPR).

'We always welcome all overseas governments to solve this problem together,' he said. 'But we have not had many replies so far.'

He said bureaucracy and differing legal systems across countries dramatically lowered the efficiency of cross-border IPR protection.

Mr Gao said the mainland was just one of the victims of the thriving international counterfeit trade and eradication of the industry required more input from other countries.

He said other countries should rethink their responsibilities in relation to the mainland's piracy problems, instead of blaming central government authorities.

'Most counterfeit CD, VCD and DVD products are smuggled into China from overseas and the counterfeit goods are usually produced to meet overseas demand.

'If overseas authorities could monitor and stop the export of those illegal product lines to China, China would have many fewer counterfeit CD and software goods.'

Representatives from a number of big overseas brands said mainland authorities had changed their attitude on IPR protection in recent years, but there was a long way to go.

'In the past, China's government thought IPR protection was only the business of foreign brands and the authorities were there just to help,' Procter & Gamble's Charles Zhang said. 'Now the authorities recognise the soaring counterfeiting will finally destroy creativity in all industries.'

Adidas brand protection manager Yao Wei said: 'Counterfeiting problems are still significant on the mainland even though the authorities have been making efforts to solve them. We found the quality of the counterfeit goods has been improving day by day. And many pirate factories have been moved to hinterland provinces on the mainland.'

Ms Yao said the firm could not solve the problems without co-operation from mainland authorities.


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