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Courts Give IPR Crooks Lengthy Sentences
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A total of 13 intellectual property rights (IPR) violators were sentenced to jail terms ranging from one to seven years by courts in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Guangdong yesterday.

The four cases involved selling pirated optical disks, producing spare car parts with Japanese brand names without authorization, selling fake trademark symbols and producing and selling bogus foreign alcohol.

Yesterday's judgments were a sign of a strengthening of criminal punishments for IPR violations following the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate decision to lower the thresholds for IPR violation punishments in late 2004.

In Beijing, Lin Rongzhou, who bought 29,800 pirated optical disks and sold 5,300 of them for profit last August, was sentenced to a two-year jail term.

The disks he sold were worth in total 59,500 yuan (US$7,300), sources said.

Beijing Daxing District People's Court also fined Lin 60,000 yuan (US$7,400).

In Shanghai, Zhao Weixin, former chairman of a Taiwan-based company, along with two accomplices, stood accused of producing fake Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and Mitsubishi motor fittings since 2001.

Court sources said that the three produced over 2 million car spare parts worth 15.2 million yuan (US$1.9 million), and had recorded sales of 14.8 million yuan (US$1.8 million).

Shanghai Hongkou District People's Court gave Zhao four years imprisonment and a fine of 400,000 yuan (US$49,000).

The other two accused, both also surnamed Zhao, were sentenced to two-year and three-year jail terms, as well as fines of 200,000 yuan (US$25,000) and 300,000 yuan (US$37,000) respectively.

The heaviest sentence of the four judgments yesterday was given to Lai Shouqiang, who produced and sold fake imported alcohol with Hennessy and Chivas brand names.

Zhongshan Municipal Intermediate People's Court in South China's Guangdong Province sentenced Lai to seven-years imprisonment on grounds that he produced and sold 4,000 bottles of imported wine worth 240,000 yuan (US$30,000) from 2004 to 2005. Lai was fined 400,000 yuan (US$49,000).

Seven other people were sentenced to imprisonment of one to three years.

In the fourth judgment in Suqian, East China's Jiangsu Province, the local court found defendant Zhang Qinghe guilty of producing and selling fake registered trademark symbols.

He was sentenced to three years imprisonment and fined 5,000 yuan (US$620).

He produced over 114,000 fake brand symbols and sold 14,000, sources said.

The 2004 ruling lowered the financial threshold after which a violator may be punished.

When a business brings in a minimum of 50,000 yuan (US$6,200) in revenue or 30,000 yuan (US$3,700) in illegal gains from selling counterfeit goods or infringing on copyright, it will be eligible for criminal punishment.

The previous standards were 100,000 yuan (US$12,300) and 200,000 yuan (US$25,000) respectively.

(China Daily May 16, 2006)

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