Warning--Counterfeit Goods through the Mail

Issue 32, China IP,[Copyright]

On August 25, in a Beijing Customs warehouse, Ms. Lucy Nichols, Global Director of Nokia Corporation’s Brand Protection Portfolio gazed at a large mound of famous brand digital products. Included were Apple and Sony MP3 players, Nintendo’s Game Boy, Kingston HY storage disks, and mobile phones including Nokia.

Ms. Nichols picked up a seized Nokia mobile phone, compared it to her own, and smiled, because the counterfeit was an exact duplicate. In fact, all of the confiscated digital goods were fakes, which would have been sent abroad if not intercepted by the Customs.

Also in late August, Beijing Customs announced a seizure that included 50,000 pieces of 12 world brand counterfeit digital products in 75 boxes, with a value of 20 million Yuan.

More shocking than the goods, were their international mail and express channels of transportation.

Mr. Lin Junjie attorney from Lovells Beijing Representative office said: “Selling counterfeit goods through mail has existed for a long time. However, with the fast development of e-business, international and express mails have become two important channels for unlicensed goods flowing abroad.

According to statistics from the Customs in 2008, approximately 80% of such products were grabbed by them.

“We began to pay close attention to these channels from as early as 2006,” GuoDawei, Vice Director of regulations of Beijing Customs told this China IP reporter.

From June 1 to December 31, 2008, the General Administration of Customs conducted a special campaign to protect intellectual property via mail and express channels nationwide.

Although a huge number of goods were seized, by no means it is an easy task.

“In an infringement case using the mail, senders tried to get around customs by splitting large packages of counterfeit goods into smaller units. Mailing from widely scattered postal stations, they repeatedly sent small parcels, while changing the names of the senders and addresses to escape law enforcement,” said Wang Jijun, Deputy Commissioner of Beijing Customs.

“It is difficult for customs to seize goods in such channels,” said Guo, “firstly, we are short of hands. Secondly, the goods are transported using air mail and EMS and stay a very short time in customs. Thirdly, they are in large quantity and scattered. Lastly, senders are cunning and have numerous ways to escape. And there is also the problem of coordination between departments.”

Currently, Beijing Customs has three offices in postal stations that checks mail going abroad and all mail to key areas is X-rayed.

Investigation after seizure is even more difficult.

From an express envelop of goods seized, this reporter found that the address and name of the recipient were very detailed; however information of the sender was vague. This is another problem encountered by law enforcement: both sender and recipient are hard to locate as false names are often used.

“We are unable to track down those responsible for goods going out this way. Has larger amount of goods with traditional channel bills and it is easy to track down those responsible for goods,” said Mr, Lin.

“I believe that only by guiding more people to official channels can we curb fake goods in this channel,” Ms. Lucy Nichols told this reporter. Apparently, Nokia also felt somewhat helpless as a right holder.


(Translated by Li Heng)


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