Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Will the Olympics Improve IP Protection in China?

Guest Writer, By Peter Skoutelas and Barbara Luther
With the Olympic Games beginning in China, we found the following information. China has historically had a culture of sharing and copying any new creation. This poses many issues with intellectual property protection and enforcement. China is working on changing this culture, which may benefit you.
Barbara J. Luther, Esq.

Change is in the wind for the protection of intellectual property rights in China-due in no small part to the Olympic Games in Beijing. To protect government owned Olympic Intellectual Property rights, the Chinese have started a program to educate the public on counterfeits.

Olympic Intellectual Property rights include Olympic symbol exclusive rights, trademark rights, and copyrights. All Beijing Olympic licensed products are authorized to be sold by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, or BOCOG. In November 2005, the BOCOG licensing program was launched. The program included 70 manufacturing and 80 retail companies. During the games, there will be approximately 10,000 licensed stores throughout China. These stores sell, among others, pins, stationary, toys, bags, arts and crafts, daily use products, audio and video products, sport utilities, food and more. In all, the products incorporate 600 designs, spanning 11 categories of licensed products. It would be no surprise to learn that thousands of vendors in China are actively selling from unauthorized commercial use of the Olympic Symbols. The products they’re selling illegally depict the Olympic Symbols along with Fuwa, the Beijing Olympic mascots. The Chinese government has started to realize the amount of money they stand to lose, after witnessing the 2004 Athens Games generate $61.5 million in revenues from the sale of licensed Olympics merchandise.

As a consequence, IP protection activity by the Chinese government has picked up recently and is proceeding along multiple fronts. Enforcement has included investigations by the authorities uncovering over 1,500 cases of violations
involving Beijing Olympic slogans, logos, and other trademarks. As a result,BOCOG, together with the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department, are determined to crack-down on unlicensed vendors who are pirating CDs, DVDs, and counterfeit Olympic products. Public education, including an anti-counterfeiting hotline promoted everywhere from TV to bumper stickers, has made the protection of Olympic IP a community cause. With the public tuned in, the authorities have begun receiving much needed help in cracking down on illegal goods bearing Olympic trademarks.

The Olympics Games bring the countries of the world together, to compete, to showcase their pride, and to enrich us all with their culture. Beijing 2008 will be an important test for the Chinese to lay to rest allegations and concerns from other countries. The Chinese government has had a sophisticated awareness of these issues for some time and has been quietly, patiently, laying the foundation for effective detection, adjudication, and application of legal remedies in protecting intellectual property rights. Finally, this is their chance to enforce respect of Intellectual Property rights and encourage acknowledgement of the unique products of others.
What do we recommend for protecting your Intellectual Property in China? Because the Chinese government is educating its citizens to reject fakes and is applying IP law against infringers, we are more optimistic for coverage. Keep in mind also that the rapid growth of the Chinese economy, combined with improvements in the IP enforcement regime, will in the coming years compound the value of patents, trademarks, and copyrights covering Chinese territory.
Finally, one thing is certain: if you don’t file in China, you’ll have no Chinese intellectual property rights to protect!

Call us to discuss your particular situation.
The Luther Law Firm, PLC © 2008 All Rights Reserved
10575 N 114th Street, Suite 103 Scottsdale, AZ 85259
Phone 480.344.7745 Fax 480.344.7748

The Luther Law Firm makes available this information for general informational purposes only. This information is not intended as legal advice. Moreover, no attorney-client relationship is created through your receipt or use of this information. Do not act upon them without first seeking legal counsel. Further, the information is general and may not apply to particular factual or

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