You may have heard the expression “fake it till you make it.” The reverse seems to hold true in China. Counterfeiting has become the proverbial scarlet letter of the country. Chinese president Xi Jinping has announced an effort to aggressively combat Chinese counterfeiting.
The aim of China’s anti-counterfeiting plan is two-fold: to stop trademark and patent infringement of both foreign brands as well as domestic Chinese brands. China is seeking to maintain good business relations with the U.S. by taking action to police counterfeiting and preserve the integrity of foreign brands. It is likewise demonstrating a desire to protect Chinese innovators’ intellectual property from domestic infringement.
To address foreign brand counterfeiting, China’s General Administration of Customs has teamed up with U.S. customs officials to thwart the pervasive issue. Two recent investigations by U.S. and Chinese customs officials found more than 1,500 cases of counterfeited products for export to the U.S. Since big-name brands—such as Nike and Prada—are commonly known, counterfeits of such brands are easier to spot. Counterfeits of lesser known brands, however, are more apt to slip through the cracks. Thus, the counterfeit exports that have been discovered so far could be just the tip of the iceberg.
For any foreign company—but especially smaller companies—Chinese customs officials are recommending the following safeguards against counterfeiting:
- Register your trademark in China.
- Then, register it separately with Chinese customs.
So doing can help make trademark infractions easier to spot to customs officials. It can also help get counterfeit products removed from Chinese online shopping sites, such as Alibaba. Enlisting the help of a lawyer who is both fluent in Chinese and understands government and private trademark regulations can be a valuable aid in this process.