UNITED States Customs officials have begun training their Shenzhen counterparts in detecting counterfeit intellectual property which could provide the biggest boost to Hong Kong's war against fake compact discs and pirated software so far. The move last week is being seen as a major step forward in the fight against China's intellectual property right infringement in which Hong Kong plays a key role as a distribution outlet. One of the two senior officials from the US Customs office in Beijing made the trip to Guangdong last week with senior Chinese Customs officers. The breakthrough meeting with Shenzhen Customs bosses was the first since the US-Sino Copyright Agreement in March which averted a US$8 billion (about HK$61 billion) trade war. The US had threatened sanctions unless China made strides to prevent the production and distribution of counterfeit goods, mainly music CDs and CD-ROMs, which were finding their way to America, often through Hong Kong. US Customs official Jean Sinnar, speaking from Beijing, said the visit was the first since the agreement to the southern provinces, which often lack control from Beijing and contain most of the rogue factories manufacturing fake CDs. She said Beijing officials had been involved in training with the US experts in Beijing on copyright investigation and enforcement, and had also been to Washington and San Francisco. 'They showed a real willingness to learn and I believe even this first visit could start to show results. 'But we can only show them how we do things and it is up to them what they will consider useful.' However, the Business Software Alliance, whose private detectives worked undercover in the mainland as buyers for counterfeit products, intends to lobby the meeting and show that such goods are still being readily produced. Despite the closure of six of the 29 factories listed by the US as being involved in fake CD production, all but one have reopened and are believed to be producing illegal goods. Many of the factories are joint ventures with Hong Kong companies and kept running by Hong Kong technicians, industry sources say. Pirate versions of software package Windows 95, launched worldwide by Microsoft today, have been sold in the Golden Arcade, Shamshuipo, since the beginning of the year.