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Fake Goods, Tall Promises

Once again, the city is pledging to step up its fight against producers of counterfeit goods, but many company managers don't seem impressed with a promise they have heard all too often in the past.

A symposium on copyright protection at Shanghai University Saturday - International Intellectual Property Day - drew representative from various municipal departments, including the people's court and the Intellectual Property Bureau, to discuss the problem and consider solutions.

"A good IP protection system guarantees the city's overall competitiveness," said Qian Yongming, director of the Shanghai Intellectual Property Administration. "So, Shanghai, as China's economic forerunner, should take immediate steps to meet international standards on IP protection."

Qian said government officials will spend more time searching the local market for counterfeit goods, but a quick look at the illegal DVD stalls on the street, not to mention the Xiangyang Rd. market makes it clear that copycat products aren't hard to find.

Despite that, Shanghai Municipal Administration for Culture, Radio, Film and TV reported it confiscated 4.7 million pirated audio-visual products last year, up 900,000 from a year ago.

The city says it will set up a special information bank by August so local legislators, retailers and residents can see how intellectual-property cases are handled in different countries and what Chinese law says about copyright protection.

Many companies are far from impressed with the promises, however.

Fei Mingjie, deputy general manager of Bo Concept China, said he is frustrated at the number of furniture units copying his firm's designs.

"We won't have any time to do business if we launched time-consuming lawsuits against all the companies that infringe on our designs," said Fei.

In 1998, Bo Concept filed a lawsuit against a small company for copyright infringement. But the suit took two years to complete and the company wasn't impressed with the tiny compensation it received.

Meanwhile, Liao Wenhua, marketing manager of Shanghai Double Happiness Crown City Sporting Goods Co., is upset with supermarkets and shopping malls selling pirated table tennis balls.

"Many of them are pretty cheap, but some sell at normal prices, both of which have hit our business," said Liao.

(eastday.com April 27, 2002)

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