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International Brands Unite to Fight Counterfeits in China
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Nineteen international brand-name firms have launched a joint year-long campaign to monitor counterfeit goods in China, to help the government protect intellectual property rights (IPR).

International law firm Baker and Mckenzie has been contracted as the IPR agent for the companies, who include Adidas, Puma, Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, Chanel and Gucci.

A lawyer with Baker and Mckenzie said in Beijing Monday the first stage of the campaign would focus on the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, where counterfeit goods were often seen on the market.

Staff from the companies would pose as shoppers and look for counterfeit goods with a notary officer nearby, the lawyer said. They would request market authorities to close stalls selling fake versions of the 19 brands and to destroy the stock or to face a complaint to the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

"The campaign is mainly aimed at managers of retail markets," the lawyer said. "Checks on every single stall are impossible, so we need to motivate managers to improve their supervision."

Under Chinese laws, market managers are responsible for removing counterfeit goods and dealers from their premises.

Last September, Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy and Prada, jointly filed a lawsuit against Beijing's famous Xiushui (Silk Alley) market and five of its stall holders, after twice finding fake versions of their brands. The firms won compensation totaling 100,000 yuan (US$12,500) in the first case in China where a market manager was found culpable.

The lawyer said 16 markets in Beijing would be the first targets of the campaign, including Xiushui.

In the past five years, Chinese police have recorded more than 6,700 IPR infringement cases, seizing 350 million yuan (US$43.75 million) worth of fake goods.

"China has enhanced international cooperation in IPR protection," said Fu Ziying, assistant minister of commerce.

The government was abiding by agreements under the World Trade Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization and Asia Pacific Economic Conference, he said.

The government was actively participating in the China-EU IPR dialogue mechanism, the Sino-US IPR working panel and the multilateral cooperation system involving China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

On Saturday, the government pledged to work with other countries to defend IPR under the Shanghai Initiative agreed with protection bodies from China, the European Union, the United States, and other countries.

Fu said public awareness of IPR protection was being promoted nationwide, with education programs for primary schools and publicity campaigns.

On April 20, the Administration for Industry and Commerce in Shanghai announced a list of 85 international trademarks from 10 countries, saying special efforts will be taken to protect the brands' IPR.

An official with the Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce said trademark holders would be informed as soon as the counterfeit goods were found on the market during daily inspections.

(Xinhua News Agency May 4, 2006)

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