Thursday, September 29, 2011

Canton Fair Tries To Become More Fair In IPR Protection, Problems Remain

By Michiel Tjoe-Awie

Canton Fair is the biggest show on earth. It shows more kinds of products then one can think off and is also known as “The” China Import and Export Fair. But for many manufacturers the fair comes with a dilemma. “Yes”, they want to sell their products to the world. But in order to sell you first have to show and showing is dangerous in a place that, besides having representatives of all over the world who might be interested in buying your product, is also crowded with honest and less honest competitors. And here is the “No” in the dilemma, it’s not good business to give away your new designs and inventions on a silver platter. It might only take a few clicks with a camera on a phone to start the copying process in a remote factory in the Chinese industrial jungle (read the story Danny Friedmann (2007) posted about it here), most likely not even that far from the fair. This problem is still very real but their some strategic steps has been taken. Over the years the Canton Fair has tried to curb the supply of IPR infringing goods that are offered at the exhibition. The timeline below offers an oversight.

1957 – First Canton Fair: Canton Fair was organized for the first time;
2001 – Introduction of an IPR plan: Canton Fair comes up with IPR regulations;
2002 – Introduction of reverse burden of proof: Canton Fair orders companies to provide evidence to prove their innocence if accused of IPR infringements;
2004 – Canton Fair becomes model: the State Council issues an action plan for IPR protection demanding that all other trade fairs should learn from Canton Fair;
2006 - Canton Fair’s regulations are leading: the Canton Fair regulations were used as an example for China's first trade fair IPR regulations (Protection Measures for IPRs during Exhibitions);
2011 – Canton Fair IPR statistics 2011: Canton Fair handled 616 IPR infringement complaints from companies taking part, 800 exhibitors were accused and 465 companies received disciplinary action, which includes in some cases being expelled from the fair.
- Companies that were found to have infringed IPRs were named and shamed during the fair;
- During the fair a Sino-Japanese symposium on IPR protection was held.

Read Zhou Sufen's article for China Daily here.

Tip! Before going to an exhibition don’t forget to register your IPRs in the strategic markets. Contact Danny Friedmann if you want to know more about this.

Text Michiel Tjoe-Awie

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