Status in China: Manufacturing and selling products
A British SME with a registered trade mark in China found several counterfeits of its products on a popular e-commerce platform. Before starting a take-down action, the Helpdesk recommended to proceed with a search for basic information from the Chinese company infringing their rights. The Chinese company had an offline shop in a popular market in Guangzhou where the EU SME sent an investigator to collect further evidences of trade mark infringement. The investigator organised notarised purchase and notarised pictures of the infringing products. Once the case was built, the dossier was filed with the local AIC (Administration of Industry and Commerce).
The AIC proceed with a surprise administrative raid action. They seize the infringing products and a month later issued an administrative notice fining the Chinese company for trade mark infringement.
The fine notice is an administrative decision that could be used as evidence of trade mark infringement. The company rightfully decided to use it for several follow-up actions:
- to speed-up the take-down of the Chinese counterfeiter’s infringing links on several e-commerce platforms,
- to send a warning letter to the Guangzhou market hosting the infringing shop based on the prohibition to sell goods infringing on registered trade mark rights, and
- to ask for damages with the civil court.
When you find counterfeits online, it is advisable to check the sellers’ information before initiating an online take-down, to see whether it’s possible to take offline actions against them. Always collect notarised evidence of infringement before initiating any enforcement action. Keep in mind that administrative enforcement for straightforward infringement can be a fast and cheap option, which might further open the door to follow-up actions. Finally, note that it’s essential to have your rights registered in China to enforce them with Chinese authorities.