CHINA PROMISES TO CLEAN UP ITS ACT

Whether it is as a result of increased international pressure or a general will by the Chinese Government brought about by the lack of implentation of a declared National IP strategy there would appear to be a slight shift change in the Chinese Government’s attitude to IP enforcement. According to the latest news story from the publication Managing Intellectual Property, “China’s Supreme People’s Court has issued guidelines for implementing the National IP strategy that will lead to unified tribunals handling civil, criminal and administrative IP courts and may create a specialist IP appeal court”. 

So what does this mean in practice? Well, finally, the Chinese acknowledge that they must take more steps to punish those who repeatedly infringe for commercial gain if they are to achieve their objectives to be one of the world’s most innovative countries by 2020. The Chinese plan was encapsulated in their National IP Strategy so let’s watch this space. Like most major changes, it is not going to happen overnight so ACID looks at some of the less traditional and alternative routes to achieving legal objectives if companies are unlucky enough to experience copying in China.

In any settlements always try and get information about the name and contact details of a Chinese manufacturer – these can be circulated to colleagues and also sent to anti copying groups to contribute to their intelligence databases. Establish where the copies come from in China. Often competitors are the culprits and, according to Mark Chernick of Play Vision who has successfully created alternative strategies, “We often change the rhythm of when we produce products into the market. Competitors will always watch your production patterns closely so we try to launch new items during the months of August to November, when the Chinese factories are at their busiest, therefore spending time on production, not product development”. From the factories themselves? Install spies to work on your behalf. Through website access? Many companies now make their websites inaccessible to Chinese users. Via exhibitions in China or in the West? Chinese knock off products need a channel of distribution – one of the most effective ways to cut off the oxygen supply is through western markets by accessing a more user-friendly judicial route or, at certain exhibitions, enforcement and stand shut down. In design magazines? always communicate your IP strategy on any ads or editorial – better still if you are a member of an anti copying organisation use the logo! There has also recently been a major crackdown on safety issues in China with newer safety requirements, meaning many more export licences revoked and 100′s factories shutdown. Therefore, those factories fearful of being shut down by the Chinese Government can be targeted if there is an IP issue. Factories are also very aware of complaints about poor quality and potentially unsafe products so there a very high chance they will discontinue producing your items if they fear having their factory shutdown. Rumour and scandal mongering is effective and asking local agents or brokers to work within factories on your behalf encourages the grass roots spreading of information about successful infringements on your behalf such as confiscations or custom involvement.

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