Are You the Victim of Chinese Counterfeit Products?

From golf clubs to sneakers, the Chinese have been counterfeiting our patented products for years. The advent of the internet allowed people like me to find what looked to be Ping golf clubs made under a different name in China for a fraction of the price. The same holds true with Nike Jordon’s and Chanel handbags.

Most purchasers are unaware or really don’t care because the product looks identical and is affordable. Merchant platforms like eBay, Amazon and Alibaba have put fairly stringent requirements on the products that are most counterfeited. Apparently this isn’t slowing the production of knock-offs down in China.

Intellectual property has been at the forefront of the conversation in regard to big business and infringement, but small and medium-size firms are also concerned with their patent rights. Not surprising, in 2018, 87% of all counterfeit products seized at U.S. ports came from either mainland China or Hong Kong, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Trade. Perhaps we should send them our barges of garbage in return for the favor, evening out the trade dilemma; garbage-in, garbage out.

Those of you who still think that U.S. trade is bad, and China can’t help it, need to wake up.

Just ask Ruth Brons, who spent over $100,000 patenting a musical part for the violin, only to be taken to the cleaners by Chinese counterfeiters. Fake versions of her product are being sold on the e-commerce site Taobao. The counterfeits were being sold at a fraction of Brons’ price.

I’m sure Chairman Xi and his comrades in Hong Kong don’t mean to be violating the law and acting in a criminal manner in the U.S. Xi says he will do his best to look into the problem. That should make Bernie Sanders feel better. On the home front, Trump has said that the U.S. government would pursue a regulatory crackdown if sites like Amazon et al did not do more to fight the sale of counterfeit products. I image this keeps Jeff Bezos up at night.

U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are set to meet this month in Washington, D.C., for another round of talks, where intellectual property violations will be a topic.

According to Fred Rocafort, a former U.S. diplomat who has worked on IP issues in Asia for more than a decade, “The problem emerges when you start looking at the enforcement, which takes place at the more local levels than at the national level. Frankly, left to their own devices there would probably not be a lot of progress in terms of strengthening enforcement.”

So what is a small business to do? First off, you must realize that if you plan to go after counterfeiters in China you should expect a time-consuming, bureaucratic, tedious and expensive process.

One wonders if this was a part of your business plan. Again, the world as a market has been opened up through the monolithic platforms, and it begs you to get involved. After all, how can you turn down the Asian markets, the largest populous in the world? Just curious, where do they get the “fake” meat for those meatless burgers?

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