Blog: Leonie BarriePutting China into focus

Leonie Barrie | 19 January 2006

Anyone who takes an interest in China – and that really should be all of you – could do worse than sign up to the weekly newsletter from Access Asia. I get inundated with various newsletters of all kinds every day, most of which get jettisoned without being opened, but I always find time for a chuckle at  MD Matthew Crabbe’s laid back, tongue-in-cheek, invariably hilarious and very Western take on all things Chinese.

The information isn’t just apparel-based – in fact Access Asia provides a range of market information on everything from food and drinks to DIY – but offers the kind of insight you can only obtain by being at the centre of the action, so to speak. This week it included a very sardonic take on China’s legal system following the recent decision to award compensation to luxury labels including Chanel and Prada for fake goods being sold in Beijing's Silk Street market.

As Matthew points out, all too often “you win the case, get a judgement, but then there’s no enforcement. This means costly returns to court and more hassle while the problem persists. We have always maintained that China will not get serious about IP until it has some IP of its own to protect – we still remember the infamous raid on Beijing’s Silk Street where police scooped up bags of IP-offending articles covered in the official Beijing Olympics 2008 logo. The fake Prada, Chanel, Gucci and whatever other brands next to the Olympic T-shirts were left unruffled.”

On the Silk Street case “the phrase ‘Phyrric victory’ comes to mind. A paltry US$13,000 in fines was handed out, and days after the verdict fake Prada and Chanel bags were back on sale – no enforcement. Two problems arise in the Silk Street case: 1, the authorities have failed to enforce the court’s decision and clamp down on fakes, and 2, the government, Silk Street’s landlords and tenants all know that tourists go to Silk Street for fakes. If the clampdowns were enforced the tourists would go elsewhere, the stallholders couldn’t pay their rents and the nice premises the city built them would go bankrupt. For the time being the economy of piracy will continue to triumph over any mere judge’s decision.”

Access Asia


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