US And China Cooperate To Seize 243,000 Counterfeit Devices

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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A flood of fake Apple and Samsung smartphones stopped at the border

A month-long joint operation conducted by the US and China border forces has resulted in a seizure of 243,000 fake electronic products, including cheap copies of devices made by Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry.

The operation was the biggest cooperative effort in the history of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) department.

Earlier this year, a report by the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property (CTAIP) claimed Chinese businesses were stealing billions worth of IP “through cyber means”.

China fighting counterfeit goods

In May, the General Office of the State Council of China announced a massive campaign against intellectual property rights violations, as well as counterfeit and low quality products. Later, border protection and customs authorities in the US and China agreed they would collectively crack down on trade in fake goods between two countries.

Aleksey StemmerAccording to the government statistics, 72 percent of items that were seized in the US for breaching intellectual property rights in 2012 originated from China. CTAIP estimates that the theft of IP costs the US economy $320 billion a year.

China’s disregard for Western trademark and copyright laws is legendary. Last year, Chinese manufacturer Goophone claimed it had patented the iPhone 5 design, ahead of the smartphone’s launch in the US. And in 2011, a US blogger discovered three counterfeit Apple Stores, copied down to the blue Apple t-shirts, name tags for staff, wood counters and winding staircases.

This particular campaign focused on sea shipping routes between the US and China. The border agencies didn’t work with each other directly, but simply shared intelligence and tips. One such tip, passed from Chinese customs officers to their US counterparts, led to the arrest of an American citizen who imported fake Beats headphones to sell them on Craigslist

“The theft of intellectual property is a global problem and cross-border efforts are needed to fight it. CBP looks forward to a continued partnership with the People’s Republic of China General Administration of Customs in confronting this critical trade issue,” said Thomas Winkowski, the commissioner of CBP.

“Robust enforcement of intellectual property rights allows innovators and creators – whether in a small start-up or an international corporation – to profit from their efforts, and gives consumers confidence in the products they buy,” he added.

“[Intellectual property rights infringement] not only harms the order of global trade, but also threatens the health and safety of consumers. Enforcement agencies around the world should work more closely to crack down these illegal activities,” added Zou Zhiwu, vice minister of the General Administration of China Customs.

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