Economic ties with Asian countries like China have grown in importance as Japanese corporations have increased their commerce in Asia in recent years. Damage from counterfeit is spreading globally. One of the factors is the huge production of low-cost counterfeits, particularly in China, and their international exportation.
It is also true that such a global flood of counterfeits and pirated copies not only infringes on Japanese corporations’ IP rights but also causes enormous financial harm to these companies.
In these circumstances, Japanese enterprises must implement anti-counterfeiting measures both on the worldwide market and at the home border.
What are counterfeit goods?
Determining counterfeit items is not an easy task. They could be broadly defined as “illegal items infringing on legitimate commodities lawfully protected by Industrial Property Law and Copyright Law.” However, it is not always fair to refer to all alleged “intellectual property infringing goods” as counterfeit goods. Particularly when it is infringing patents, this can lead to a patent infringement lawsuit with another company in the middle of competitive technical development.
As a result, it is easier to understand what counterfeit goods are when they are defined as “free-riding” goods that are produced with no investment and infringe on other people’s industrial property rights such as Trademark, Design, Patent, and Copyrights (goods infringing Copyrights are commonly referred to as “pirated copies”) such as music, motion pictures, and computer software.
When counterfeit goods are created and distributed globally by criminals who are well aware that they are infringing on the rights of others, it is a major concern. Furthermore, when it is handled by a corporation tied to organized crime, the problem becomes even more serious, making it impossible for ordinary businesses to handle on their own.
Some counterfeit goods, however, are manufactured unintentionally by people who are unaware of intellectual property regulations. A counterfeiting issue, in any case, is an intellectual property infringement case with a purposeful component (some cases are of negligence).
In terms of vocabulary, alternative phrases that characterize those other than counterfeits include “pirated copies,” which refer to items that infringe copyrights, as previously indicated, as well as “copied goods” or “imitation goods.”
It is not acceptable to make illicit items by copying other people’s intellectual creations or stealing their reputation or credibility, regardless of how it is described.
How to prevent counterfeiting in Asia?
Corporations and their countermeasure policymakers must take a tough stance against counterfeit products producers and distributors and “never give in to counterfeit production and distribution”.
Counterfeiting is a problem that cannot be solved with a single solution. It will be impossible to remedy this problem without widespread public awareness of intellectual property rights, as well as government and corporate (rightsholders) efforts.
Increased public awareness of the negative consequences of buying or selling counterfeit goods is critical, as is public comprehension of intellectual property rights. As a result, promoting knowledge of the intellectual property rights system is equally important for government, business, and industrial entities.
However, the effectiveness of an awareness campaign has a limit. Criminal counterfeiting can be divided into two categories:
- One reason is ignorance; they are unaware that duplicating intellectual property is illegal.
- The other is deliberate; they are aware that copying intellectual property is illegal, but they continue to do so since it is a simple business with a low risk of punishment.
For crimes involving a lack of understanding, an awareness campaign will be successful, but it will not deter people who are deliberately committing counterfeiting offenses. For those who are wilful offenders, law enforcement authorities such as Customs and the police must adopt a proactive approach to counterfeiting issues, as well as system enhancements such as stronger penalties for intellectual property infringement cases.
It is vital to demonstrate to the counterfeiters that counterfeiting will never pay off. Strengthening enforcement is also a good way to educate the public about the fact that infringing on intellectual property rights is a crime.
Applicable Law for Enforcement
Following Laws govern the management of counterfeit goods:
- Patent Rights,
- Utility Model Rights,
- Design Rights,
- Trademark Rights,
- Copyrights, Neighboring Rights,
- Rights of layout-designs of Integrated Circuits,
- The Unfair Competition Prevention Law, and
- Other intellectual property rights.
The amended Basic Law on Intellectual Property went into effect in November 2002, based on the Intellectual Property Strategy Guidelines announced in July 2002.
The Promotion Program on the Creation, Protection, and Exploitation of Intellectual Property was established as a concrete measure, as were amendments to the rules governing counterfeit objects and pirated copies.
In 2005, both the Unfair Competition Prevention Law and the Customs Tariff Law, which had been modified annually since 2003, underwent significant changes.
Countermeasures Against Counterfeited Goods (Illegal Goods)
Elimination of Counterfeit Goods (Illegal Goods)
The most successful technique for preventing unlawful reproduction of a company’s registered trademarks, drawings, and patents is to secure the IP rights as soon as feasible by applying in the target country. According to the Beijing JETRO many Japanese firms previously struggled to combat counterfeits simply because they could not acquire IP rights in the country.
It is also vital to keep counterfeiting under control and, once discovered, to eliminate it legally.
Private Sector Countermeasures to Counterfeiting
While the specifics of each company’s and association’s countermeasures are not released for fear of giving beneficial information to the offenders, parts of the company’s and association’s countermeasures are made public through their websites and seminars.
Activities of the International Intellectual Property Protection Forum (IIPPF), Public and Private Sector Joint Countermeasure Against Counterfeits
The International Intellectual Property Protection Forum (IIPPF) is a non-profit organization that promotes intellectual property protection around the world. It’s a meeting place for private enterprises and organizations dedicated to resolving the problem of intellectual property theft caused by counterfeits and pirated copies. It was founded in April 2002 to bring together business voices to make concerted efforts to promote intellectual property protection while enhancing government engagement, and it now conducts a variety of activities through its project teams.
The counterfeit problem appears to be a never-ending game. Right holders must constantly monitor the market to assert their rights as soon as illegal counterfeits are identified. It is also vital to educate consumers on the fact that purchasing an imitation is a criminal offense.
Here are some things to think about when it comes to counterfeiting.
1. Product value of counterfeits
Because of difficult distribution system issues, many legitimate products, such as imported brand name videos, are often pricey. As a result, people are more likely to purchase a less priced copycat version with comparable quality and appearance. However, in many situations, the imitation is of poor quality, if not defective, and there is no aftercare provided.
2. Technical issues with a foreign country, including technology transfer
Developing countries want to be the owners of advanced industrial technology and profit from them. However, it is difficult to provide economic cooperation in terms of intellectual property, such as technical cooperation, transfer, and investment, when the judicial system and its enforcement in the region or domain of technology is insufficient.
3. Independent R&D
If they are able to develop their own business and industry by obtaining intellectual property rights of their own, the manufacturer does not have to commit counterfeiting, thus reducing imitations as a result.
4. Importance of Intellectual Property protection
Patent, design, and copyright protection are required to provide an incentive to generate inventions as well as some guarantee to cover the expensive cost of R&D. For example, just as a farmer needs property such as land, an industrial corporation requires the intellectual property to assure its outcomes, and the need to protect one’s work is especially crucial for the creator of an original work.
Counterfeit issues are spreading across borders. It is not a problem that a single country can solve or prevent on its own.
In addition to international cooperation, the following points are crucial in eradicating such illegal acts.
- Global improvement of the judicial system and intellectual property rights enforcement (such as by treaty).
- Improved environment for attracting foreign economics and technology by relaxation of licensing restrictions and expansion of investment choices.
- Promotion of IP system enforcement education and awareness efforts.
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