China: IP Infringement Galore

We love reading about current intellectual property infringement cases, but China is likely not sharing our enthusiasm at the moment.

The Shanghai Intellectual Property Court published a report, which highlighted the continual growth of intellectual property infringement cases in China. The report stated that the majority of lawsuits were claims of trademark or patent infringement. The plaintiffs in these cases include Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft.

Due to new establishment of Intellectual Property Courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, non-Chinese brands now have wider access to the Chinese Trademark Review and Adjudication Board. What does this mean? These legal entities have the power to invalidate registered trademarks, which plays favourably for the aforementioned brands. This is because most of these brands have been the target of “trademark squatting practices”, which is the “intentional filing of a trademark application for a second party’s registered trademark in a country where the second party does not currently hold a trademark registration“. China is notorious for this. This may have some hand in explaining the increase in IP law infringement cases in China by Apple, Goldman Sachs, Christian Dior, Hermès, Costume National, Iceberg, Michael Bastian, Moncler, and Ermenegildo Zegna. But, that’s just our hunch.

According to The Fashion Law, Li Shulan, the Vice President of the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court, has publicly stated, “IP cases have been surging at more than 20 percent year-on-year in recent years.” Shulan said that the court is very busy with such cases and “the court will impose heavier compensation according to the law on violations of intellectual property as a stronger deterrent, and will increase the intensity of punishment for repeat violators and those who ignore court verdicts.”

Do you think this surge was inevitable?

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