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Announcement and Exchange Meeting on 2016-2017 Annual Top Ten Cases in IP Protection and Model Cases Bridging Administrative and Judicial IP Enforcement

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Announcement and Exchange Meeting on 2016-2017 Annual Top Ten Cases in IP Protection and Model Cases Bridging Administrative and Judicial IP Enforcement

    On June 17, 2017, Quality Brands Protection Committee of China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment (hereinafter referred to as QBPC), a 17-year-old committee with nearly 200 foreign-funded enterprise members and some observers for domestic-funded enterprise, held the Announcement and Exchange Meeting on 2016-2017 QBPC Annual Top Ten Cases in IP Protection and Model Cases Harmonizing Administrative and Judicial IP Enforcement in Beijing. Nearly 300 guests and representatives from relevant ministries, authorities that handled top ten cases and model cases harmonizing administrative law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign embassies in China, chambers of commerce, international organizations, academia, media, domestic-funded enterprises and QBPC members were invited to attend the meeting. Ambassador Adam Blackwell, Chair of the Meta Council on the Illicit Economy of the World Economic Forum, sent a congratulatory letter to QBPC, pointing out the significance how to harness innovation, ideas and technology in order to overcome the disagreements on fighting illicit economy due to the differences in laws, regulations and political views. He encouraged QBPC to play a greater role and take on more responsibilities to respond to the challenges of illicit economy in a highly interdependent environment on a global scale.

    Since 2002, QBPC has been selecting and releasing the annual top ten cases in IP protection, which has become a brand activity with considerable social impact and has received wide attention from law enforcement, judicial, enterprise-university-research institutes, the headquarter of QBPC members, some international organizations and the medias. It is also an important window for the international community to observe China’s investment and IP environment. Nominated by members, the cases participating in the selection are divided into top ten criminal cases in IP protection, top ten non-criminal cases in IP protection and model cases harmonizing administrative and judicial IP enforcement, and are selected by the Election Committee through secret ballot. This year, a total of 28 cases are selected after an impartial, open and fair selection.

    Among the top ten criminal cases, most of them belongs to the industry of drug, food, daily chemicals, maternal and child supplies, electrical products and other industries related to the national economy and people’s livelihood, and are major and important cases in the industry which were supervised, handled or commended bythe Ministry of Public Security and other ministries. The production and sales of counterfeited products are well-organized and their network is huge, causing a very bad social impact. Some criminals making and selling the counterfeited products are sentenced to life imprisonment, 15 year’s imprisonment and other free penalties and fine penalty up to 8 million yuan and 6.1 million yuan. These severe penalties demonstrate China’s firm determination to fight against fake and shoddy products, and also greatly deter the criminals making and selling fake and shoddy products. Due to the rapid development of e-commerce, the Internet has become an important tool to sell fake and shoddy products. “littleseizure” or even “zero seizure”, “zero oral confession” has become an important characteristic of the Internet cases. Some selected cases have successfully explored this field. Some selected cases also show the continuous innovation and breakthrough in IP criminal protection practice in the context that anti-counterfeiting action has entered a deep water zone, such as clearly defining executive organs that have the power to confiscate counterfeit products, the injunction against probation, identifying online sales records and treating the omitted crime.

    Among the top ten non-criminal cases, most of them are related to trademark infringement, unfair competition and administrative law enforcement in import and export. In practice, the phenomenon of rush registration, malicious registration and “free-ride” is very serious, which is also a very difficult problem many QBPC members are facing. After some same and similar trademarks are successfully registered, they are often authorized to the related parties and are used in different categories or forms to conduct the false and misleading promotion and other unfair competition. The unfair competition of maliciously registering trademarks, on the one hand, can easily cause or even have caused confusion in the market, seriously infringing upon the legitimate rights and interests of right holders of high-quality brands. On the other hand, it also brings a lot of obstacles and difficulties in law enforcement and investigation, and the rights protection of right holders. And some people who maliciously registered others’ trademarks even filed administrative complaints and litigations against local authorities and real trademark right holders, abusing the trademark rights they obtained improperly and attempting to seek improper benefits by interfering with the business development of right holders. Many of the selected cases are related to the important identification of trademark infringement and unfair competition. There are also some good identification such as “piercing the corporate veil”, the responsibility of market management, and the “legal sources” of counterfeited and infringing products in these cases. As China vigorously promotes the Belt and Road Initiatives and the “Made in China”, IP protection in import and export becomes more important. The four selected cases related to the IP border protection represent the exploration of the mechanism of handling the infringement cases in the field of Internet cross-border e-commerce, the innovation of the law enforcement mode of IP protection, and the model of international cooperation in the law enforcement of  IP protection.

    Among the model cases harmonizing administrative and judicial IP enforcement, four are related to customs enforcement. These cases are examples of pragmatic cooperation between QBPC members and the local customs to strengthen the IP border protection. They are also important achievements to vigorously promote the effective connection between administrative law enforcement and criminal justice. Today, as China continuously optimizes its IP environment, the production and sales of counterfeited products in some industries have been effectively controlled. However, some industries still face the situation that a large number of counterfeited and infringing products are exported, and even face new challenges that counterfeited products made abroad enter Chinese market. Therefore, cases of selling counterfeit trademarks and even involved in the crime of producing and selling fake and shoddy goods in import and export links or the market should be transferred to the public security organs for criminal investigation in a timely manner. By doing this, it is of great significance to deeply investigate the production and sales network, and fight against the production and sales of counterfeited products all the way or from the sources. In the current special background, IP border protection is particularly important. Many QBPC members have established the regional or global production base in China. It is conducive to further enhance and strengthen QBPC members’ confidence in China’s IP protection and continuously increase their determination of investment in China by constantly strengthening and optimizing the IP border protection environment and the mechanism of harmonizing administrative and judicial IP enforcement. QBPC would like to extend the utmost respect and sincere thanks to the organs who have handled the best cases.

    In recent years, QBPC’s selecting and releasing the cases exert a growing influence. The selected cases have also been accepted by the central and local law enforcement and judicial departments. Taking this year’s cases for example, the case of producing and selling counterfeit drugs by Ren Hongwei and his gang members in Heilongjiang has been chosen as the annual ten cases of fighting against the production and sale of counterfeit drugs by the Ministry of Public Security and the State Food and Drug Administration, the case of administrative dispute between SANTAKUPS and the Guangzhou Administration for Industry and Commerce Tianhe Branch as the 2016 Model Case in Trademark Infringement Handled by Industrial and Commercial and Market Supervision and Management Departments and the 2016 Top Ten Model Cases in Special Project on Fighting against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting of Guangzhou Administration for Industry and Commerce, and series cases of investigating and handling the lubricating oil in disguise of famous brand by Huangpu Customs and Tianjin Customs as the 2016 customs model case in IP protection by the General Administration of Customs.

    The selection and announcement of the cases for 16 years have provided QBPC members with opportunities of exchanging, learning and optimizing the brand protection. They have recognized, encouraged, and acknowledged a lot of frontline law enforcement and judicial officers in IP protection, and have provided a large number of classic cases worthy of reference for the law enforcement, judicial activities and academic research in IP protection. The activities have continuously contributed to enhancing China’s awareness of IP protection and brand protection and vigorously promote China’s continuous efforts and new achievements in IP protection in the international community. All in all, the selection and announcement have reached an understanding, enhanced mutual trust, achieved cohesiveness and created a multi-win situation!
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