Resolute fight against IPR infringement and counterfeiting is to create a reliable environment for consumption

Yang Hongcan, Head of Law Enforcement Inspection Bureau of the State Administration for Market Regulation

In the Decision of CPC Central Committee on Deepening the Reform of CPC and State Institutions and the Plan of Deepening the Reform of CPC and State Institutions, the deployment and requirements are made concerning the reform of market regulation system and unification of market regulation and establishment of a unified, open, orderly and modern market system. In order to improve the market regulation system, promote the implementation of quality-empowered national development strategy, create a market environment upholding honesty, integrity and fair competition, further advance the comprehensive law enforcement in the market regulation, strengthen the supervision over the quality and safety of products and make the general public feel safe and relieved in their shopping and consumption, the central government decides to set up the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) to integrate functions and teams of law enforcement in industry, commerce, quality inspection, food, drug, pricing, trademark and patents and to form a team of comprehensive law enforcement for the market regulation.

According to the plan of determining institution, function and staff (“three decide” the stipulation), the Law Enforcement Inspection Bureau shoulders the work of the Office of National Leading Group on the Fight against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting, in which the anti-IPR infringement and anti-counterfeiting as well as the protection of consumers’ rights and interests are the key functions and tasks of the Law Enforcement Inspection Bureau.

As the crackdown on IPR infringement and counterfeiting is essential for satisfying the needs of people for a better life, China has always attached great importance to combating the IPR infringement and counterfeiting.

First, a sound legal and regulatory system of anti-IPR infringement and anti-counterfeiting has been set up. In recent years, considering the new characteristics of IPR infringement and counterfeiting acts, the SAMR pushes forward the formulation and revision of over 20 laws, including the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests, the Advertising Law, the Trademark Law, the Seed Law, the Anti-Unfair Competition Law and the E-commerce Law, etc., which provide solid legal base for the improvement of IPR protection and the fight against IPR infringement and counterfeiting.

Second, a mechanism of anti-IPR infringement and anti-counterfeiting has been introduced. At the national level, the National Leading Group on Fight against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting is established to unify the work on organizing and leading the national combat against IPR infringement and counterfeiting. At the provincial level, 31 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government) and Xinjiang Construction Corps set up the leading groups on the fight against IPR infringement and counterfeiting, thus forming a work pattern of centralized leadership, inter-department coordination, joint local action and multi-player involvement.

Third, the anti-IPR infringement and anti-counterfeiting work scores substantial results. In the first three quarters this year, the market regulators handled 21,000 illegal cases of trademarks, up 5.9% year on year and valued at 310 million yuan, among which 19,800 cases were about trademark counterfeiting, up 8.9% year on year and valued at 290 million yuan. 35,000 cases about patent-related administrative law enforcement were handled nationwide, up 32.7% year on year, among which 19,500 were about patent disputes, up 43.6% year on year; 15,800 cases were about patent counterfeiting, up 21.4% year on year. The market regulators handled 29,000 cases about infringement upon consumers’ rights and interests, valued at 870 million yuan and with a fine and confiscation of 200 million yuan. The market regulators launch the “Lijian” Action of quality inspection for the anti-fake fight in key fields of agricultural material, building materials and automotive to deepen the regional rectification. The anti-counterfeit law enforcement in terms of quality of e-commerce products and consumer goods is continuously carried out, handling 31,000 illegal cases valued at 1.35 billion yuan.

Starting from 2015, the market regulators launched the three-year “Qingfeng” Action for the protection of “Made in China” image abroad to harshly combat manufacture and sales of IPR infringement and counterfeiting products, achieving positive results.

Currently, the market regulation departments in local areas are taking intensive efforts to launch the comprehensive law enforcement action centering on anti-IPR infringement and anti-counterfeiting. The special efforts will concentrate on the anti-counterfeiting and free-riding of well-known brands in the rural area and the urban-rural fringe area, the inspection of infant food, campus food and online ordering food, and the rectification in the health food fraud and false food publicity will continue. The special efforts will also target counterfeiting, false publicity, counterfeits through overseas on-line shopping and monopoly; The market regulation in certification and test will be strengthened, with a focus on solving the existing problems of false certification and testing reports, purchase or sales of relevant certificates and arbitrary charging, etc.

As the market regulators nationwide take proactive and effective measures, the work against IPR infringement and counterfeiting continues to score important outcomes. However, there is still a big gap between the reality and the public expectation and the work needs to be improved.

Next, the market regulators should put the combat against IPR infringement and counterfeiting high on the agenda by improving the work system, building the information system of case handling, consolidating the organization and guidance in handling the cases, strengthening the inspection team building, deepening the investigation and study and expanding the influence of anti-IPR infringement and anti-counterfeiting publicity as focal points, in a bid to promote the systematic, standardized and scientific level of law enforcement inspection, further facilitate the business and consumption environment and vigorously serve the high-quality economic and social development.

First, to handle a batch of major cases and strive for a good market order. The law enforcement in terms of standardization, certification, measurement and quality is to be reinforced to improve the guarantee for quality and safety in the products and service. The law enforcement in the protection of consumers’ rights and interests is to be strengthened by investigating and handling the acts of consumption fraud, unfair format provisions, intentional delay or decline of reasonable demands of consumers without a reason, etc. The act of infringement upon consumers’ personal information will be a key area of law enforcement. To strengthen the work against IPR infringement and counterfeiting and solve prominent issues of IPR infringement and counterfeiting in the fields of copycat or knockoff food in the rural area, trademarks, patents and geographical indications, a three-year plan for the fight against IPR infringement and counterfeiting is to be formulated and the special law enforcement actions are to be organized.

Second, to pursue the principle of law-based governance, combination of combat and construction, coordination and social governance and to promote the orderly linkage of administrative law enforcement, judicial adjudication and mediation. The regulations about information sharing, case report and transfer should be identified. In fully leveraging the role of information sharing system for the linkage of administrative law enforcement and criminal justice for fight against IPR infringement and counterfeiting, the seamless linkage of administrative punishment and criminal punishment should be promoted. In order to build up a new pattern of anti-IPR infringement and anti-counterfeiting based on joint construction, co-governance and sharing, the government-business cooperation should be strengthened, the role of industrial self-discipline should be brought into play, the initiative of right holders and consumers should be spurred and the social supervision should be boosted.

Third, to accelerate the application of new technologies and new methods to improve the capabilities of clue discovery, source tracking and precise crackdown.

Fourth, to increase the efforts on publicity related to combat against IPR infringement and counterfeiting so as to enhance the public awareness about fake fight. From the global perspective, different social communities are not fully aware of harms of IPR infringement and counterfeiting. The consumers are expected to enhance their capabilities of discerning the counterfeits, a small number of whom still buy the counterfeits while knowing they are fake. While the market regulators should actively carry out the fight against IPR infringement and counterfeiting, the earnest efforts should also be made on publicity and education to raise their awareness on the harms of IPR infringement and counterfeiting.

(Source: China Industry & Commerce News (A3 column, Dec.15 2018))