IP Enforcement at Canton Fair (China Import and Export Fair): The changes when dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic

IP Enforcement at Canton Fair (China Import and Export Fair): The changes when dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic

IP Enforcement at Canton Fair (China Import and Export Fair): The changes when dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic

The China Import and Export Fair (Commonly known as Canton Fair) is founded in 1957. The Fair was coordinated by the Ministry of Trade of China, Guangdong Provincial Government, and is organized biannually every April and October by the China Foreign Trade Center. 

The Fair contained a huge catalog of exhibitors and buyers. Therefore, the Fair’s reputation is known across the international stage and neighboring countries. It is also the owner of one of the highest business turnovers in China and possibly in the entire world. 

To achieve this accomplishment, IP protection is considered the highest priority in the development and expansion of the Canton Fair. 

The IP Protection Mechanism of Canton Fair

In 1992, the Ministry of Foreign Economics and Trade had informed a notice that more than 200 trademark infringement cases had been handled by the organizer of the Canton Fair and other administrative enforcement authorities. This is regarded by experts as the first IP protection action at the 71st Canton Fair. 

Due to the development of foreign trade, the cases of IP infringement by the annual exhibitors were also increased rapidly. As an attempt to completely wipe out the IP infringement status, at the 81st Canton Fair in 1997, the organizers at the Fair set up a “Special IP Group”. This special group aims to be in charge of handling IP infringement complaints and implementing new guidelines.

The Special IP Group was one of the earliest specialized IP protection agencies for trade fairs in China. Since the foundation of the Special IP Group, they have made the development of IP protection at the Canton Fair remarkably efficient. 

However, there had been a little bump in the development path after China joined the WTO in 2001. The formation of an IP protection system at the Canton Fair had become a major issue. In 2007, The China Foreign Trade Center issued the “Implementation Details for the Complaints about and Settlement Provisions for Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights”. 

This regulation helped with the management of the complaint process, evidence requirements, and punishments for IP infringement at the Canton Fair. This regulation was implemented for IP protection in all exhibitions in China until it was replaced by the current “Complaint and Settlement Provisions for Suspected Intellectual Property Infringement in the Canton Fair” (amended in 2017) (“the Provisions”).

The impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic 

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Canton Fair was held for 15 days and divided into 3 sessions. Each session lasted for 5 days. Before each session, IP rights holders will need to prepare for surveys and enforcement actions. Around two weeks before the opening of the Fair, the IP holders’ representative agents will apply online for the special intermediary agency license. This means that the representative agents will need to submit scanned documents such as the authorization of attorneys, trademark registration certificates, patent certificates, and copyright certificates. Otherwise, the Complaint Station will reject the acceptance of any complaint.

When the Covid-19 pandemic strikes China, every sector in the country suffers heavy damages, the Intellectual property area included. Nonetheless, IP rights should still be protected at the online Canton Fair. Due to the restricting order and social distancing, traveling to the Canton Fair physically is not an option anymore. Consequently, on 14 June 2020, the China Foreign Trade Centre issued the Complaint and Settlement Provisions for Suspected Intellectual Property Infringement in the Online Canton Fair. 

Adapting to this new normal, IP disputes can only be handled through online means. Complaints can be submitted to the online Complaint Station (OCS) on the Canton Fair official website at www.cantonfair.org.cn.

However, the number of IP disputes handled during the online Canton Fairs is far fewer than the normal offline sessions. This is because of the heavy impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and partially to the new system of online filings which is still difficult and strange to some companies.

***Other Articles***

– You could see How To Register Trademark in China here

– You could visit here to see Procedure of Trademark in China.

– You could visit here to check Required documents of filing trademark in China.

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