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Porcelain patent pirates pay piper
( 2003-12-23 09:30) (China Daily)

Known as China's porcelain capital for its marvelous craftsmanship, Jingdezhen city is taking companies to court to safeguard its reputation and to protect its patents.

"Laws are the best weapons to protect Jingdezhen's intellectual property rights," said Hong Kemin, presiding judge over intellectual property rights at the Jingdezhen City Intermediate People's Court in eastern Jiangxi Province.

"It is undoubtedly a life-or-death war for Jingdezhen to revive its glory against patent infringement," Hong said. "Trademark violations and patent encroachment are the major cause for the decline of the Jingdezhen porcelain industry."

Since its establishment in October 1999, the intellectual property rights court in Jingdezhen has handled 130 cases, helping trademark holders and craftsmen retrieve direct economic losses of some 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million).

Meanwhile, applications for patents on ceramic products in Jingdezhen have currently to more than 2,000 every year from just 60 before 1999, according to city government statistics.

Increasing awareness of patent and trademark strategy has even led to the registration of "Jingdezhen," the porcelain capital's name, as a trademark by the Jingdezhen Ceramic Association in 1999.

The association sued Shanghai Guorong Investment Company recently for intellectual property rights infringement, saying the company's organization of a ceramic products commodities fair in name of Jingdezhen porcelain early this year in Singapore and Cambodia had damaged its trademark rights.

"This row over the trademark of 'Jingdezhen' is just tip of the iceberg," Hong said. "The concept of intellectual property rights has just begun to be aroused in the city."

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