US 'notorious' branding slammed as 'unfair'

US 'notorious' branding slammed as 'unfair'


The management of a Chinese market branded as "notorious" by the office of the US Trade Representative last month rejected the accusation as "unfair" because it has conducted "a thorough crackdown on counterfeiting operations" over the past year.

The US trade listing names "marketplaces that deal in infringing goods and services, facilitating and sustaining global piracy and counterfeiting", according to the USTR office, created in 1963 under the Kennedy administration. It has compiled the list since 2006.

For the third consecutive year, the Luohu Commercial Center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, was named.

He Sheng'an, a manager at the center, said it is "a pity" that the market was listed again because management and authorities "have never ceased campaigns against counterfeit goods".

"The market has been transforming over the recent years, improving its business environment," he said. "Now it's unfair to link the market with fake goods only."

He said the Luohu center is shifting its focus from watches, wallets and leather products to traditional handicrafts and artwork, noting the number of shops selling leather products and watches that "might involve counterfeit goods" comprise 12 percent of the total.

"Management is trying its best to guide the shops not to undertake businesses that easily involve counterfeit goods," he said.

The trade office statement said the Luohu Commercial Center is "reportedly home to dozens of markets openly or clandestinely offering counterfeit or pirated goods. The display of signs prohibiting the sale of such goods has reportedly not served as an effective deterrent".

Shen Danyang, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said last year that the notorious markets list is not objective because it "uses ambiguous words, such as 'reportedly' to describe listed markets and does not give evidence or analysis".

The 2012 list has 18 websites and 17 physical markets, eight of them in China. Sweden, Russia, Canada and Mexico each have three, while Ukraine and Bulgaria are both home to two.

Two Chinese online giants - shopping portal Taobao and search engine Sogou - were removed from the most recent list because they "made notable efforts to work with rights holders" to decrease infringing content, according to a statement from the USTR.

Four other physical market operations in China on the list are the computer mall chain Buynow PC Malls, the Fuan Footwear and Accessory Market in Putian, Silk Market in Beijing and the small commodities markets in Yiwu.

Three Chinese websites - Xunlei, Gougou and Paipai - are listed as notorious markets for "facilitating downloading and distribution of pirated music and movies" or selling "pirated and counterfeit goods" online.

Liu Luyu, a senior researcher at the Shenzhen-based China Development Institute, said the list "basically tells the truth".

"It's good for some companies, urging them to pay more attention to the protection of intellectual property rights," he said.

(Source:China Daily)  

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