Unau­tho­rized replica World Cup tro­phies seized in anti-piracy swoop

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By YAN YIQI in Hangzhou yany­iqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A to­tal of 1,020 unau­tho­rized FIFA World Cup soc­cer tro­phies were in­ter­cepted on Wed­nes­day by the cus­toms of­fice in Yiwu, Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

Of­fi­cials have re­cently moved to strengthen in­tel­lec­tual property pro­tec­tion re­lated to the World Cup in Brazil in June and July. The replica tro­phies, which were to be ex­ported to Libya, were found by cus­toms agents dur­ing a rou­tine check.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of FIFA, the owner of the World Cup tro­phy’s de­sign, later con­firmed that the ac­tual-size du­pli­cates were unau­tho­rized.

Luo Xuhong, a cus­toms of­fi­cial in Yiwu, a global trade cen­ter for small com­modi­ties, said his of­fice strength­ened in­spec­tion ef­forts af­ter the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms launched an ini­tia­tive known as Green­field Ac­tion on April 11.

The ini­tia­tive fo­cuses on World Cup is­sues. Lo­cal cus­toms agents are re­quired to pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to any ex­ports that might vi­o­late the in­tel­lec­tual property rights of FIFA and World Cup spon­sors.

Luo said that be­cause of Yiwu’s po­si­tion as the world’s largest dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter for small com­modi­ties, rang­ing from socks to sports kits, the city’s cus­toms of­fice es­tab­lished a spe­cial team to sup­port the ini­tia­tive.

In ad­di­tion to tight­en­ing rou­tine checks on ex­port con­tain­ers, the cus­toms of­fice also or­ga­nized lec­tures to cur­tail vi­o­la­tions of in­tel­lec­tual property rights for commercial ten­ants.

“In or­der to leave a deep im­pres­sion on commercial ten­ants in the Yiwu small­com­modi­ties cen­ter, we in­vited FIFA ex­perts to give lec­tures,” he said. “We also showed these ten­ants the achieve­ments of our pre­vi­ous ac­tions and ad­ver­tised pro­tec­tion poli­cies.”

He Huam­ing, owner of Yiwu Sheng Hua Hand­i­craft Prod­ucts, said that sell­ing World Cup-re­lated prod­ucts is a big at­trac­tion for ten­ants in Yiwu be­cause busi­ness was so good in 2010 dur­ing the pre­vi­ous World Cup in South Africa.

“It was re­ally a hit in 2010 when people all over the world were buy­ing World Cup prod­ucts from the mar­ket. Dur­ing peak sea­sons, we were out of con­tain­ers to ship clients’ or­ders to other coun­tries,” he said.

How­ever, he de­cided not to take the risk this year, be­cause sell­ing unau­tho­rized prod­ucts is more dif­fi­cult now than in 2010.

“Four years ago, sell­ing and ex­port­ing some unau­tho­rized prod­ucts was not that hard. Only a few were caught,” he said. “This year, how­ever, we must show au­tho­riza­tion to sell these prod­ucts. Other­wise, if caught by the cus­toms of­fice, the fine will be very heavy.”

Dur­ing the 2010 World Cup, Yiwu cus­toms of­fice in­ter­cepted 17 batches of unau­tho­rized World Cuprelated prod­ucts. Among 116,952 prod­ucts were slip­pers, hats, T-shirts, bags and other items worth 1.02 mil­lion yuan ($165,000).

LYU BIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Cus­toms of­fi­cers check unau­tho­rized World Cup tro­phies in­ter­cepted in Yiwu, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on Wed­nes­day.

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