China's Supreme People's Court has issued a notice ordering stricter penalties on violators of intellectual property rights (IPR).
All illegal gains and manufacturing tools of IPR violators should be confiscated and their pirated products shall be destroyed, according to the notice.
Courts should also impose fines large enough to strip pirates of their ability to resume production of illegal copies, said the notice, without giving details about the value of the fines.
Victims of piracy in China have long been complaining that punishments are not severe enough. But experts point out that it is a problem of enforcement rather than of the law.
The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate jointly released a judicial interpretation at the end of 2004, decreeing that counterfeiters could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
Criminal penalties will be imposed on people earning an illegal income of more than 30,000 yuan (US$3,700), or producing more than 1,000 pirated copies, according to the interpretation.
Official statistics show that Chinese courts handled a total of 3,567 cases concerning the manufacture of fake products and illegal sales of pirated products in 2005, a rise of 28 percent over the previous year.
(Xinhua News Agency January 17, 2007)