Anti-counterfeiting action called for at two sessions

Experts discuss move to crack down on production and sales of fake goods

Experts called for a lowered threshold for criminal punishment, unified enforcement and a multi-resolution anti-counterfeiting system during the ongoing two sessions, the annual gathering of top legislators and political advisors.

Zhu Zhengfu, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and vice-president of the All China Lawyers Association, told China Youth Daily that checking for fakes is not an easy task.

He proposed a motion at a meeting this week to increase the fight against counterfeits and called for joint efforts to be made by e-commerce portals, social platforms and offline channels to combat infringement.

According to experts, counterfeiters are becoming increasingly more professional with a clear division of labor and industrial chain.

The dispersion of activities along illegal supply chains and the use of the internet have helped counterfeiters increase sales as well as conceal their identities, which has contributed to the difficulties in investigation and prosecution.

"Multifaceted, careful consideration should be given to the wider implications and full impact of fakes on China's economy and its social governance," Zhu said.

Mi Xuemei, a deputy of the National People's Congress, agreed with Zhu, adding that counterfeiting is an unfair practice that has a strong negative impact on companies operating in good faith.

However, while technology is making things easier for counterfeiters on one level, it is also being used in the fight against fakes.

E-commerce operator Alibaba Group established an alliance about a year ago to use the internet and big data technologies to crack down on counterfeits.

Big names that have joined the alliance include domestic chemicals manufacturer P&G, luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton, sports brand Adidas and food producer Mars.

Employing the new technologies helps Alibaba distinguish fakes from authentic goods on its e-commerce portals as well as identify illegal sellers.

In 2017, the company provided more than 1,900 pieces of information on suspected infringements, each involving amounts of 50,000 yuan ($7,920) or more in potential retail value, which is the current threshold for criminal punishment.

As a result of its actions, the number of orders cancelled on Alibaba's online markets due to suspected forgeries fell by 29 percent last year from 2016.

To date, the e-commerce platform has filed 12 complaints against suspended illegal sellers.

To find an all-round solution, in 2017 Alibaba's intellectual property teams held meetings with more than 300 international brand owners in New York, Geneva and Milan to share its new technologies and initiatives in IP protection.

Zhu Xinli, a CPPCC National Committee member, told Beijing Youth Daily that the current criminal law, which was amended in 1997, doesn't account for illegal activities in the internet era.

The threshold of crimes that involve intellectual property rights violations, ranging from 30,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan, has left plenty of space for speculators to exploit, Zhu said.

He suggested limiting the use of probation in rulings and adding a lifelong ban on illegal sellers from having any involvement in the sales and production industries.

Wang Xin, a law school professor at Peking University, said that repeated infringement and the number of fake items for sale may be taken into consideration when revising the criminal law.

Depriving illegal sellers of their professional qualifications for production and sales will also help to reduce counterfeits, Wang said.

(Source: China Daily)