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.

Originally posted 2011-02-13 19:15:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Ron Coleman

LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION blog author Ron Coleman is a member of Dhillon Law Group in their New York City and Montclair, New Jersey offices. He is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and Princeton University.

One thought on “When Fakery Turns Fatal”
  1. A comment from the sidelines concerning your most recent post. The
    issue of Chinese piracy is a delicate one in my view because it
    assumes a universal appreciation, application and understanding of IP

    It has long been my challenge to educate both practitioners and
    clients alike on the uniqueness of the Chinese experience. While I am
    by no means an apologist for the overt “rule breaking” which occurs in
    China (as well as elsewhere), I do feel that the Chinese have a
    different and arguably valid interpretation of certain IP principles
    even in light of their accession to the TRIPs Agreement. Put another
    way, when I’ve had the chance to address a public audience on the
    subject, I’ve suggested that the Chinese policy makers are actively
    engaged in the personalization or “sinofication” of international
    norms and standards. I suppose what’s most important about this is
    that in my view this reinterpretation is, to some extent, valid.

    As a quasi-academic (congratulations on my appointing you as such),
    you may be interested in this book .

    Pitman was my advisor for my LL.M. Admittedly, he hides the ball a
    little bit in this volume, but he does offer a nice explanation of
    “Selective Adaption,” which he’s since written on extensively in more
    recent years. Pitman was one of the first foreign lawyers in China in
    the 1980s. He headed the Beijing Office of what was then Grahame &
    James (I think that was the name) until the Tienanmen Square incident
    in 1989, after which he apparently prioritized his life and became a

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