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Battle against counterfeit goods enters a new phase

Officials aim to stamp out cross-border transactions

China's crackdown on intellectural property infringement and counterfeiting is shifting its focus, officials said on Tuesday.

"In the next step, we will intensify our crackdown campaigns in regions with frequent infringement and counterfeiting activities, while focusing on the online sales of counterfeits and spreading of pirated copies," said Chai Haitao, deputy director of the Office of the National Leading Group for Combating IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting.

"We will especially root out the cross-border networks for making and selling counterfeits," he said.

He added that infringement and counterfeiting of such goods as apparel, pharmaceuticals, food, software and entertainment is shifting away from the eastern region to the less-developed central and western regions, as well as the outskirts of cities. Meanwhile, online sales have become a key venue for infringements and counterfeits along with the boom in online shopping.

"Online infringement and counterfeiting are clearly increasing. [The perpetrators] are more elusive and better organized, and thus more troublesome," Chai said.

One new trend he noted is the surge of online sales of fake medicines. "In the coming year, we will launch a series of special campaigns and hope to collaborate with e-commerce platforms to reduce the criminal activities," Chai said.

Taobao.com, China's largest consumer shopping platform, signed a memorandum of understanding in August with the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, to curb the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods.

The collaboration covers using available technologies to improve the efficiency of the identification and reporting of fake goods sold online and developing educational materials aimed at online buyers and vendors.

From January to September, China filed a total of 234,000 criminal cases involving infringement and counterfeiting, with a total value of 2.42 billion yuan ($398 million), according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Chai said that the State Council, or China's cabinet, passed a notice to open the files of infringement and counterfeiting cases to the public.

"We will then establish a black-list mechanism, joining forces with nine departments, for manufacturers and sellers involving infringement and counterfeiting. Consumers and enterprises can refuse to do business with those on the list," he added.

Yao Jian, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said that punitive damages and inverted responsibility of providing evidence will be introduced in cases of trademark infringement, a breakthrough in IPR protection. The compensation cap also will be lifted to 3 million yuan.

China boosted its emphasis on intellectual property rights protection and crackdown on counterfeits in recent years. In late 2011, the government set up the National Leading Group for Combating IPR Infringement and Counterfeits, which is headed by Vice-Premier Wang Yang.

The government pledged to establish a unified and open, competitive and orderly market in November's comprehensive reform plan.

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