Chinese Companies Learn from CeBIT

Issue 29 By Doris Li,[Comprehensive Reports]

CeBIT, the world’s largest information and telecommunications technology trade show was held from March 3 ~ 8, 2009 in Hannover, Germany. This year’s event attracted corporations from 69 countries, including famous Chinese regulars; Haier, Konka, and Edifier, and transnational giants; Microsoft, Intel, and Vodafone. However, overshadowed by the global economic crisis, the number of exhibitors declined from 5,845 in 2008 to 4300, and past exhibitors such as Samsung and AMD were not in attendance.

CeBIT has no special requirements for exhibitors, only that they are legitimate businesses. However, with the large number of corporate participants, IP infringement incidents in the past have resulted in the stationing of local intellectual property authorities and police officers at the venues to check and regulate infringements and maintain order.

On the cutting edge of ICT, infringements involving Chinese companies have also become a “constant headache” for CeBIT. Meizu, a Chinese company, once exhibited products that appeared identical to Apple’s iPhone. Their product was confiscated, and Meizu was slapped with a fine of EUR 300,000. Germany has no tolerance for pirated products, be it one or one hundred, and a heavy fine is always imposed. For large quantities of infringing products or aggravated circumstances, local authorities will confiscate all show products and make arrests. Previously, this situation occurred to a Chinese exhibitor, who was released only after embassy mediation.

During this year’s event, a Taiwanese exhibitor was punished for playing several songs without paying royalties. A weighty fine was paid. In Europe, every song played comes with EUR 3 remuneration to the composer.

“CeBIT has become stricter in intellectual property administration as competition intensifies,” said a Chinese exhibitor, “but some medium-and-small-sized companies still harbor the hope to brave it out. Besides, most Chinese products target the Middle East or other developing countries where intellectual property is not a big deal.”

The Edifier Technology Co., Ltd. of Shenzhen is a frequenter to the event. The company’s head officer stated that, “It is a good thing for Chinese companies that CeBIT exercises severe intellectual property administration, for it will prevent some people from becoming ‘sidetracked’. You will be highly respected if you do well in intellectual property. Then we will learn what we are expected to do, and stop complaining of being looked down upon.”

Infringement from the Chinese drew attention from the government. On February 20, the Ministry of Commerce issued the following; Notice on IPR Protection in CeBIT Exhibition in Hanover, Germany. This was also the first time at a large scale overseas exhibition, that the Chinese government had established an intellectual property service facility to provide mediation for Chinese companies.

(Translated by Li Heng)

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