The New York Times reports about an aspect of trademark enforcement which, among the disputes over rent-seeking and IP overreach, is often forgotten: The value of trademarks as a guarantor of quality in mission-critical, or life-and-death, situations.
The weak link is China:
Experts say counterfeiters are now moving to outlying areas of the country, where it is easier to evade regulation. The counterfeiters are also moving into food and agriculture, which are difficult to monitor because they involve small farmers and entrepreneurs.
Small-time entrepreneurs have played the same game over and over with other products, experts say, adding cheap substitute chemicals to toothpaste; using lower-grade materials to produce car parts, batteries and cellphones; and creating factories that specialize in counterfeit goods.
Last year, for instance, pirates were caught faking an entire company, setting up a “branch” of the NEC Corporation of Japan, including 18 factories and warehouses in China and Taiwan.
“We have to bear in mind they probably don’t think about the consequences at all,” said Steve Tsang, a China specialist who teaches at Oxford University. “They’re probably only thinking of making a fast buck.”
I’m not sure I understand the “we have to bear in mind” part. Adults have to think about the consequences of their actions. So do their governments.