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'Eagle' swoops on IPR violations
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-16 06:46

In the fight against intellectual property right (IPR) crimes, Chinese police are zeroing in on food, medicine and brand-name products as the "major targets," said an IPR official yesterday.

Police will especially focus on transnational infringement cases, said Zhao Bin, an official in charge of IPR protection at the Ministry of Public Security (MPS).

In November 2004, police departments joined several other ministries to launch the "Eagle Programme," a crackdown on crimes related to brand names or intellectual property.

The campaign will last until the end of the year, Zhao said.

The ministry is supervising and pushing ahead with investigations of 130 major cases.

Besides food and medicine, officials also target many items including mechanical and electric equipment, farm products, wine, soft drinks, cigarettes, cosmetics, daily necessities, costumes, bags, cultural and sports goods, audio-visual products and publications, the ministry said on its website.

Chinese police have uncovered 2,991 cases of IPR infringement, arrested 5,001 suspects and recouped economic losses worth 990 million yuan (US$122 million) during the first 10 months of this year, according to the MPS.

The MPS also publicized yesterday six cross-border IPR infringement cases as well as 10 domestic ones that had been uncovered by police.

In one case, police departments in Tianjin Municipality and Henan Province joined forces with the US customs and immigration authorities to track down a criminal gang that organized the production and sale of fake medicine.

The Chinese and US judicial departments arrested nine suspects, including one US citizen, and confiscated 440,000 tablets of fake Viagra and Challis as well 260 kilograms of materials.

Among the estimated 100 or so MPS-supervised IPR domestic cases, 49 involved the violation of foreign brand names, including 31 US brands, said the MPS.

For example, Lin Yuanjing, a Fujian resident, was sentenced last November to two years imprisonment with three years probation for producing and selling fake Nike and Adidas sports gear worth 6.14 million (US$757,000).

Zhao, the MPS official, told China Daily that law enforcement and judicial departments are making unprecedented efforts to protect IPR.

Police are collecting more evidence and are actively seeking prosecutions, he added.

Statistics indicated that courts heard about 15,000 IPR cases last year compared to just a few dozen in the 1990s.

However, criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, which has increased the difficulty for police to crack down on IPR cases, MPS officials said.

(China Daily 11/16/2005 page2)

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