On April 22, 2022, the General Administration of Customs China (GACC) released the Typical Cases of Intellectual Property Protection by China Customs in 2021 (2021年中国海关知识产权保护典型案例) highlighting the seizure of intellectual property infringing goods bound for both import and export. Infringing products targeted both foreign and Chinese companies including Huawei, Johnson & Johnson, automobile manufacturers, Apple, Samsung, Crocs, Disney, Ugg and more.
Ningbo Customs seized more than 20,000 pencils infringing Disney’s copyright for the animated film Frozen.
Hangzhou Customs strictly protect independent intellectual property rights
On March 11, 2021, a company in Yiwu declared to Yiwu Customs, a subsidiary of Hangzhou Customs, to export a batch of goods, and the declared product names included electronic products such as “charging head” and “charging cable.” After inspection by law enforcement officers, it was found that 34,000 mobile phone charging heads marked with the “HUAWEI and Graphics” trademark were hidden in the container. The outer packaging of the charging head is simple, the quality is rough, and the parties are unable to provide the corresponding authorization documents, so there is a great suspicion of infringement. On April 8, a company in Dongyang declared to Jinhua Customs, a subsidiary of Hangzhou Customs, to export a batch of goods. After inspection by law enforcement officers, it was found that there were 1,632 batteries suspected of infringing the “HUAWEI and Graphics” trademark and a total of 15,999 other infringing goods. The right holder, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., confirmed that the above charging head and battery are infringing products, and applied for customs detention.
Jinhua and Yiwu Customs investigated the above cases respectively, and initially confirmed the information on the owner and seller of the goods. In view of the large amount of infringing goods involved in the two cases and the high value of the cases, both of which were suspected of criminal crimes, Hangzhou Customs notified the public security organs of the clues in a timely manner according to law, and actively promoted the public security organs to investigate the case. In July 2021, the above two cases began investigation. As of December 2021, the public security organs have basically found out the domestic production, transportation and sales of infringing batteries, earphones and other products. A total of 14 criminal suspects have been arrested, 9 people have been taken compulsory measures, and 5 counterfeit dens have been destroyed. More than 10 tons of various infringing products were seized on the spot, with a preliminary estimate of the value involved in the case reaching 160 million RMB.
Gongbei and Jiangmen Customs jointly protect the patent right of biscuit production line according to the application
In late April 2021, Zhuhai Food Machinery Manufacturing Co., Ltd. reported to Gongbei Customs that a biscuit production line that a machinery manufacturing company was about to export at Jiangmen High-tech Port was suspected of infringing its patent rights. Gongbei Customs immediately activated the cross-customs area rapid response mechanism, and after cooperating with Jiangmen Customs to conduct risk research and judgment on the evidence provided by the enterprise, it was agreed that Jiangmen Customs would review the application for customs protection of intellectual property rights, relevant patent certification materials and corresponding guarantees submitted by the enterprise and take control measures.
On April 28, the machinery manufacturing company declared to Jiangmen Customs to export 1 biscuit production line in the form of general trade, with a total of 31 standard containers and a value of 5.696 million RMB. After on-site comparison and verification, the right holder believes that the relevant components are suspected of infringing its 2 invention patents and 4 utility model patents. Jiangmen Customs preliminarily determined that the above-mentioned biscuit production line was suspected of infringing two invention patents of the right holder, and on May 10th, the above-mentioned suspected infringing goods were detained in accordance with the law. On May 25, the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court requested the customs to assist in the preservation of evidence for the goods involved.
Beijing and Zhengzhou Customs jointly enforce the law and seize the case of imported infringing hemostatic gauze
In July 2021, evidence was obtained from the Beijing Customs that a company imported hemostatic gauze that infringed on the exclusive right of Johnson & Johnson to use the trademark for sale on the domestic market. The Beijing Customs immediately conducted a big data analysis, preliminarily determined the company’s major sources of supply, import channels and declaration factors, issued a control order at the customs area, and applied to the General Administration of Customs for nationwide control and real-time monitoring of the movement of goods to avoid “port drift.” In August, three batches of the hemostatic gauze imported by the company arrived in Zhengzhou, and Beijing Customs immediately notified Zhengzhou Customs to carry out joint law enforcement. Upon receipt of the notification, experts of Zhengzhou Customs conducted joint research, judgment and on-site guidance, suspended the customs clearance procedures for three batches of goods, conduct in-depth inspection of goods on subsequent affiliated routes of the same consignee, and confiscated nine batches and more than 13,000 pieces of hemostatic gauze suspected of infringing the exclusive right to use the trademark “ETHICON,” with a value of more than 650,000 RMB. Upon identification, the aforesaid hemostatic gauze infringes upon the right holder’s exclusive right to use a trademark filed with the General Administration of Customs, and the right holder applied to the Customs for taking measures to protect its intellectual property rights. The public security authority intervened in the case in advance, and the Customs has transferred case materials and goods involved to the public security authority for handling.
Shanghai Customs Investigates the Case of Auto Parts Infringing the Exclusive Right of Trademark by Export
In March 2021, a company in Shandong declared to Yangshan Customs, a subsidiary of Shanghai Customs, to export a batch of oil filters in the form of general trade, declaring the products as “unbranded.” After on-site unpacking inspection, in addition to the declared oil filter, there were also some air filters in the container. The above-mentioned goods totalled more than 15,000 pieces, and the outer packaging was printed with “HYUNDAI”, “TOYOTA” and “FORD” respectively. “HONDA”, “KIA”, “LEXUS”, “DENSO” and many other international well-known car brands, and as the goods category and intellectual property status are inconsistent with the declaration, there is a great suspicion of infringement and counterfeiting. After confirming with the relevant rights holders, the above-mentioned goods were all found to be infringing and counterfeit goods. According to the application of the right holder, Shanghai Customs filed a case in accordance with the law, and assigned a person to carry out a careful and meticulous investigation. After mastering the basic information of the case and securing the relevant evidence, Shanghai Customs promptly provided the relevant evidence of the case to the Shanghai Public Security Bureau.
In July 2021, the public security organ officially opened a criminal case. According to the evidence reported by the customs, the public security organs successfully destroyed a counterfeiting den behind the case and cut off a production and sales chain of counterfeit auto parts. The relevant criminal suspects are under criminal compulsory measures in accordance with the law, and the case is under further investigation.
The Guangdong Branch of the General Administration of Customs takes the lead in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Huangpu and other customs to carry out
Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao joint enforcement action against infringing goods series
In order to further combat cross-border infringement of intellectual property rights in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, the Guangdong Sub-Administration of the General Administration of Customs organized the customs in Guangdong Province to carry out joint enforcement actions for the protection of intellectual property rights between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao customs with Hong Kong and Macao customs. Based on the actual situation of the customs area, the three customs offices clearly defined the key points, divided the labor and cooperated, and strengthened the investigation of infringement to and from Hong Kong and Macao through shipping, land transportation, express mail and other channels or re-exported to North America, Europe, Africa, and countries and regions along the “Belt and Road” through Hong Kong and Macao. Good results have been achieved in the supervision of goods and articles.
The Guangzhou Customs will focus on the purchase of goods through the transfer of small vessels from and to Hong Kong and Macao to countries and regions along the Belt and Road. In November 2021, when inspecting a Foshan company’s “women’s clothing fir” which was declared for export to Macao by way of market purchase, the customs office of Foshan Customs seized 5492 pairs of earphones and 300 pieces of electronic watches which infringed upon the exclusive right of Apple Inc. (US) to use the trademark “Apple logo”, and 1,000 pairs of earphones which infringed upon the exclusive right of Xiaomi Technology Co., Ltd. to use the trademark “MI”.
The Shenzhen Customs shall focus on monitoring the overland logistics routes between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, give play to the advantages of frontline port customs supervision, strengthen the verification of the status of real goods intellectual property rights, and strictly control the last stage of export of goods. In April 2021, the Shenzhen Bay Customs Office of the Customs General Administration seized 10,560 infringing mobile phone boxes labeled “TECNO” which were declared for export to Hong Kong by a company in Maanshan City by means of cross-border e-commerce B2B.
Huangpu Customs closely follows the development law of the new format of cross-border delivery business, implements the “five-dimensional linkage” smart supervision reform, improves the coordinated supervision mechanism, and realizes the intensive management of audit operations and comprehensive risk prevention and control. In July 2021, when Dongguan Customs inspected a batch of “headphones” and “data cables” with the declared specifications and models “without specification” exported by a company in Guangdong via Hong Kong, they found that they violated Samsung’s “SAMSUNG” trademark. 90 pairs of earphones, 80 mobile phone chargers, 7440 data cables, 620 pairs of earphones and 720 data cables infringed the exclusive right of Apple’s “Apple” trademark, and 180 software CDs infringing the exclusive right of Microsoft’s trademark.
Qingdao, Tianjin and Kunming Customs Protecting Small and Medium Enterprises’ Independent Innovation and Investigating and Detecting Export Infringing Goods
Customs across the country thoroughly implemented the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important instructions on the development of SMEs, fully implemented the new development concept, with the theme of promoting the high-quality development of SMEs and the goal of enhancing the innovation capabilities of SMEs, and actively carried out customs protection of intellectual property rights. Effective measures have been taken in the “Longteng Action” carried out for five consecutive years to further enhance the comprehensive strength and core competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises.
In April 2021, Qingdao Customs successfully seized 28.6 tons of infringing detergent from a company in Jining, and upon confirmation of the right holder, Jiangsu Aoguang Daily Chemical Group Co., Ltd., the aforesaid goods infringed upon its exclusive right to use the trademark “Joby” registered with the General Administration of Customs. The case has been transferred by the Customs to the public security organ for criminal investigation.
Tianjin Customs conducted special industry investigation and implemented a precise crackdown in light of the current situation of the developed local welding material industry facing frequent export infringement. In August 2021, it was successfully discovered that a Nanjing company had declared for export more than 110 tons of counterfeit “Jinqiao” trademarked electrodes. The case was the largest case of suspected infringement of the brand name of Jinqiao Welding Materials found by Customs since the mark was registered with the General Administration of Customs.
In November 2021, Kunming Customs seized 220,000 infringing cotton pads exported by a company in Yiwu. The right holder, Yiwu Qiaohuotianxia E-Commerce Co., Ltd., confirmed that the above-mentioned goods infringed its exclusive right to the “FM” trademark registered with the General Administration of Customs. The case has been transferred by Customs to the public security organ for criminal investigation.
Xiamen, Urumqi and Xi’an Customs seized a series of cases of trademark infringement of foreign brands
In April 2021, when Xiamen Customs inspected gardening shoes declared for export by a company in Jinjiang, it found that 10,200 pairs of garden shoes used the “croos” logo. The right holder believes that the above-mentioned goods are similar to the “crocs” registered trademark filed with the General Administration of Customs, and applied for customs protection of intellectual property rights. The customs detained the suspected infringing goods in accordance with the law, and make an administrative penalty decision to confiscate the infringing goods and impose a fine after investigation. On this basis, Xiamen Customs further sorted out risk parameters and implemented precise strikes, and successively seized 27,720 pairs of gardening shoes with the “croos” logo exported by three batches of different enterprises.
In July 2021, when Urumqi Customs inspected a batch of motorcycles declared for export by a company in Jiangmen, it was found that 26 motorcycles used the “CQYAMAHA” logo. The right holder believes that the above-mentioned 26 motorcycles with the “CQYAMAHA” logo infringe their intellectual property rights filed with the General Administration of Customs, and apply for customs protection of intellectual property rights in accordance with the law. The customs detained the relevant suspected infringing goods in accordance with the law.
In November 2021, Xi’an Customs found that in a container declared by a company in Qingdao for export, the declared product name was “automobile filter”, and the specifications and models were indicated as “unbranded,” which was suspected of infringement. After inspection, it was found that the above-mentioned goods were marked with “MANN FILTER”, “VOLVO” and “TOYOTA”, for a total of 14,494 pieces. The right holders confirmed that the goods exported by the party violated the relevant intellectual property rights filed with the General Administration of Customs, and the customs detained the above-mentioned goods in accordance with the law.
Nanjing, Taiyuan, and Fuzhou customs postal channels seized the case of multi-brand infringing goods
From January to March 2021, the Nanjing Customs successively seized about 1,700 batches of blankets, clothes, shoes, and other articles suspected of infringing 19 trademarks including “DISNEY” and “UGG” from the postal parcels mailed out of China by “He”, totaling 1,908 pieces. Upon identification of the right holder, the aforesaid articles were found to be infringing products. The Customs of Suzhou City detained the aforesaid articles involved in the case in accordance with the law, informed the public security organ of the evidence for the case, and assisted the public security organ in timely securing evidence and transferring the case. Public security authorities seized a cross-border e-commerce trading platform and arrested eight criminal suspects, using the sender’s name as a breakthrough in the case investigated and issued by Customs.
In March 2021, when the Taiyuan Customs conducted routine monitoring over the information on declaration of postal articles, it was found that some of the information sent by senders was filled out in vague and incomplete forms, which indicated a greater risk of infringement. The inspectors increased the proportion of machine inspection and the proportion of inspection on the opened packages, seized 1,241 batches of suspected infringing articles mailed out of China by mail including by “MRzhao” and “XY”, and separately infringed upon the trademark rights of “DISNEY”, “BMW” and other trademarks registered with the General Administration of Customs.
Fuzhou Customs carried out in-depth special enforcement actions for intellectual property protection of delivery channels (“Blue Net Action 2021”), and seized suspected infringements of “PANDORA”, “APPLE”, etc. There are 2,116 batches of trademarked items, with a total of 6531 items.
Ningbo and Jinan Customs Investigate a Series of Cases of Infringing the Image Copyright of Well-known Animation Movies
Frozen, Cars, and Paws are well-known animated films, which are deeply loved by audiences all over the world. With the launch of the movie sequel, related derivative products are also favored by many consumers. At the same time, various “hot” infringing products are also gradually increasing. In November 2021, Ningbo Customs seized more than 20,000 colored pencils infringing the copyright of Disney’s “Frozen” and more than 10,000 pencils infringing the copyright of “Cars” among the unlicensed goods declared for export.
In the field of new business forms, the Customs has also actively conducted research and analysis to effectively combat copyright infringement. In July 2021, Jinan Customs seized more than 4,100 infringing toys such as balloons, stickers and toys in exported cross-border e-commerce air cargo. Among them, the stickers and toys violated the copyright of “汪汪队” of Spinmaster.
Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, and Nanchang customs seized shipments to the “Belt and Road” – Series of cases of infringing goods in countries along the route
With the continuous expansion of the scale of trade between China and the countries along the “Belt and Road”, the export of goods to related countries is also increasing. Under the unified deployment of the General Administration of Customs, customs across the country have carried out the “Longteng Action” for five consecutive years, and continued to strengthen the intellectual property protection of goods exported to countries along the “Belt and Road”. The level of intellectual property protection has been continuously improved, effectively fulfilling the Chinese obligations to protect property rights maintains the international reputation of Chinese manufacturing.
Chongqing Customs has strengthened the inspection of goods exported to countries along the “Belt and Road” through cross-border e-commerce channels, and seized more than 80,000 infringing sunglasses, sports shoes, clothing, shoulder bags and other goods at one time, involving “APPLE”, “Ray-Ban” ” and other 35 brands, with a total declared value of more than 690,000 RMB, becoming the largest railway port infringement case in the China-Europe Railway Express (Chongqing) in its ten years of operation. The case has been transferred to the public security organ by Chongqing Customs for handling.
Shenyang Customs seized 6 batches of infringing goods in the cross-border e-commerce freight charter channel, and detained a total of 7,834 pieces of infringing clothing, shoes and hats, chargers and other types of goods, involving brands such as “APPLE” and “Panasonic.”
Dalian Customs has increased its attention to the countries along the Maritime Silk Road. By sorting out the infringement cases seized in recent years, it has carried out special intellectual property rights control for some high-risk countries and high-risk commodities, and seized 1,641 pairs of infringing sports shoes for export.
Nanchang Customs intensified the control and inspection of intellectual property rights in railway transportation channels. In a batch of goods, 29,437 ceramic cups infringed on trademarks such as “NESCAFE” and “KITKAT” were seized.
© 2022 Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner, P.A. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 115