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State firm sued over fakes
By Cao Li in Shanghai ´╝čand Cui Ning in Beijing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-21 06:29

State-owned Beijing Metals and Minerals Import and Export Co was yesterday ordered to compensate Nike 165,000 yuan (US$20,000) for attempting to export thousands of fake Nike products to Russia. The case first came to light when Shanghai Customs found more than 123,000 sportswear items with suspicious Nike marks and tags.

The verdict comes as the Chinese Government launches another campaign against fake products produced and sold in the country.

At a ceremony in Beijing yesterday, a week-long national campaign to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) was attended by Chinese officials from 15 ministry-level departments and representatives from foreign embassies.

Referring to the court case yesterday at Shanghai No 2 Intermediate People's Court, Wang Huixiang, Nike's lawyer, said,"Under questioning, the defendant failed to prove itself an authorized user of the trademark. Customs then impounded the products."

According to the law, the owner of the trademark is obliged to pay customs to impound the disputed products and then claim the costs from the person or company at fault.

"Nike paid more than 140,000 yuan (US$17,000) to Shanghai Customs to keep the products from July 2001 to August 2002," said Wang.

"We tried many times to negotiate with the defendant over the costs, but were refused."

Jin Xiaobing, the State-owned company's lawyer, claimed the Beijing firm was innocent, but agreed the compensation was acceptable.

"The company was asked to apply for export permission for some goods by the Beijing Office of DHL Russia, which was hired by some Russians," said Jin.

"And as a trading company, my client is not responsible for checking whether the products are genuine or not."

According to Jin, the products came from the old Silk Alley Market in Beijing, a famous outdoor clothing market closed in January, where many counterfeit products could be bought.

"Foreign tourists would purchase clothes at the market and then sell them in their own country," said Jin.

He added that his client would claim the compensation from the Beijing Office of DHL Russia.

"The office has agreed on that," he added.

The government has been intensifying its crackdown on patent, trademark and copyright violations in recent years.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Culture launched an inspection of audio and video markets in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and seven other cities, to fight against piracy.

This has targeted DVDs and VCDs, China Daily has learned from the ministry.

The inspection, which will conclude by the end of this month but may be re-started later, targeting pirated DVDs of domestic TV programmes, films and pop music. It also aims to find DVDs or VCDs of American films, Japanese cartoons, TV plays or films from the Republic of Korea.

(China Daily 04/21/2005 page3)

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