Thursday, June 15, 2006

Olympianise IPR Enforcement

Singapore's TODAYOnline run an AFP story about whether Beijing markets still sell fake products, a day after some landlords of those markets had signed a memorandum of agreement with 23 luxury companies that they would not sell fake versions of their products.

The unnamed journalist visited three Beijing markets:

Silk Alley Market (I think the journalist means Silk Alley Plaza (or Silk Street Plaza), since Silk Alley Market has been closed down)
The landlord of this market, Xiushui Haosen Clothing Company, has signed the memorandum of understanding with 23 luxury companies see here (and here about Lacoste suing the landlord). According to a sales assistent in the market, there are 'regulations' about which brands you cannot sell. "All the big names like LV or Prada, are not allowed." It is not clear which regulations the sales assistent means. Is he talking about a list of 48 frequently copied famous foreign trademarks, including Prada, Chanel and Burberry, that the Beijing government provides special protection for, see here, or about the memorandum of understanding and Louis Vuitton and Prada that are part of the list of 23 luxury companies? The market is "more frequently inspected" for these brands. When they find such brands, they are confiscated and the seller fined. The journalist calles this "embryonic signs of vigilance in Silk Alley Market." However, fake versions of other brands, such as Ralph Lauren are freely sold. They are probably not on the list of 48 famous trademarks or 23 luxury companies (?).

Allien's Street
Knock-offs of brands such as Gucci and Luis Vuitton, catered to Russians and Malaysians, who buy these counterfeit products whole sale. I don't know if the landlord of this market signed the memorandum of understanding.

Chaowai Men market
Counterfeit Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Luis Vuitton products are sold. I don't know if the landlord of this market signed the memorandum of understanding.

Notice that no seller dares to sell Beijing 2008 Olympic merchandise, without any landlord signing any memorandum of understanding in advance. Geoffrey Fowler of the Wall Street Journal wrote in 2005: "The government made the logo an official priority in 2002, passing a national law exclusively to defend the intellectual-property rights of Olympic symbols. That law technically just collects existing laws in one place, applying them to Olympic logos for all levels of government." This either has facilitated enforcement significantly for administrative authorities or the fines and even imprisonment has enough deterrent effect on market sellers, or both.

Read AFP's story here.
The governement should apply the experience of the enforcement of the trademark of the Olympic Games to other trademarks and take heed to the Olympic motto: higher, faster, stronger.

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