IP Law Improved. Crackdown Carried Out. Sense of Humour Tested.

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IP stories are inevitable when covering China – it has the most problems because it makes the most stuff, and is still developing – but, while enforcement is patchy (and improving), the laws are generally thought to be OK. So, what is the latest?

Reuters has reported on a recent move by the Supreme People’s Court:

    “China’s highest court has clarified how some civil intellectual property cases are to be handled, a move that should make it easier for Western companies…to defend themselves against copycats.

    In a little-noticed decision, the Supreme People’s Court has spelled out in more detail what constitutes certain unfair business practices, from using a company’s name or imitating the packaging of its products to stealing trade secrets…the judicial interpretation, which went into effect on Thursday, would add teeth to China’s Law Against Unfair Competition because it will be easier for courts to hear cases now that the definitions of particular infringements are clearer.

    It was the first time the court had issued an accompanying interpretation for the law, which was enacted in 1993. The new interpretation codifies what constitutes a well-known product.”

In another IP protection move, it has been reported by Asia Pacific Media Network, that a four-month internet piracy crackdown has recently been completed (with a high degree of modesty):

    “the National Copyright Administration and its local offices investigated and handled 436 cases, imposed fines totalling 700,000 yuan and shut 205 illegal websites, deputy director Yan Xiaohong said…[but] The campaign only achieved limited goals within a limited timeframe and it did not solve all the problems on the internet,” [Yan] said.”

Full marks for effort – and inspiring honesty!

But, while the lawyers fight in court and officials battle online, others are taking a different sort of fight to the streets…with a sense of humour. IP Dragon comments on a post by Fons Tuinstra of the China Herald, which includes reference to some humorous adaptations of famous brand logos by Greenpeace (“iMAD” for iPOD, “Pirateoff” for Davidoff etc. – see here). So, is it satire or trademark infringement? Over to IP Dragon:

    “To my knowledge the Trademark Law does not give any limitations on rights/fair use of a registerd trademark. Should the Trademark Law have a sense of humour and include satire as a valid reason to make a citation of a trademarked logo?

    Greenpeace, if taken to court by the trademark rights holders, cannot base its defence on an interpretation of the Trademark Law that is analogous to the Copyright Law, because contrary to many legislations, which include a satire exception in their copyright law, article 22 Copyright Law, lacks one.”

What? Lawyers having no sense of humour?!

See news sources.

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