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China takes strides to combat intellectual property infringement

For years, China has been known as a haven for cheap knock-offs, a veritable outlet mall of fake iPhones, Prada handbags and Nike running shoes. And it’s not just smaller items that are subject to counterfeiting; Chinese counterfeiters have been known to replicate entire American cars.

However, the tides appear to be turning, which may signal an end to the counterfeiters’ free rein. In a recent announcement, the Chinese government laid out strategic efforts to crack down on the pervasive counterfeiting culture, bolster intellectual property rights and prevent counterfeit products from being exported.

To this end, U.S. and Chinese customs officials have coordinated their efforts. In two recent investigations of products for export to the U.S., more than 1,500 cases of intellectual property infringement were discovered.

It is noteworthy that the China’s increased regulation is not solely directed at foreign brands. The Chinese government is also taking action to protect its own patents, cracking down on Chinese exports that steal domestic Chinese patents.

China’s anti-counterfeiting efforts have tended to target big-name brands. Because names such as Reebok and Louis Vuitton are familiar, it is easier for customs officials to catch instances of counterfeiting involving such brands. For smaller, less known companies, China’s heightened enforcement against intellectual property theft provides few assurances.

For such cases, the Chinese government recommends that smaller companies register their trademark both with the Chinese government as well as with China’s General Administration of Customs. Doing so can aid Chinese customs officers in identifying cases of counterfeiting and can also help to get counterfeit products removed from Chinese e-commerce markets.

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