UNTIL RECENTLY, IT WASN’T UNUSUAL TO HEAR COMPANY EXECUTIVES
and lawyers rail against China as a country of copy-cats and counterfeiters. Their
China policies focused almost exclusively on how to stop the countless number of
fake goods and knockoffs that infringed their trademarks and copyrights. And they
wondered out loud, repeatedly, whether China would ever develop its own culture
of innovation and a respect for IP.
Today, the perception of the Asian colossus has changed. Counterfeiting is still a
problem, but lawyers are learning how to deal with it. More importantly, they consider the attitude toward IP in China—for copyright, trademark and patent infringement—to have vastly improved.
“The IP world is better for rights holders now than it was even five years ago,” says
Tom Moga, a partner at LeClairRyan who is based in Detroit and represents many
clients doing business in China.
How much better? Today, foreign companies operating in China get injunctions
against infringers, enabling them to put a halt to the infringing activity. E-commerce
companies respond quickly to takedown notices when informed that knockoffs are
being sold through their sites. Piracy is down. And China now even has three specialized IP courts, as well as 3,000 IP judges who hear nothing but intellectual prop-
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID HARTUNG
Remember the stacks of pirated DVDs, the copycat cars, the bogus
phones? They still exist, but increasingly at the margins as China gets
its intellectual property act together. Fun fact: There are 3 specialized IP courts.
BY LISA SHUCHMAN