Nike and LVMH are stick­ing up for China in the piracy fight

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Treasury Pulse -

SHANG­HAI: Nike Inc and LVMH, which have long strug­gled against knock­offs of their fa­mous prod­ucts, praised China’s ef­forts to fight in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty (IP) theft.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has cited IP vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing the coun­ter­feit­ing of ma­jor brands, as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for im­pos­ing tar­iffs on Chi­nese ex­ports. But ex­ec­u­tives at the two com­pa­nies were more char­i­ta­ble at the China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo in Shang­hai on Thurs­day.

The coun­try has helped cre­ate a “much im­proved en­vi­ron­ment for brands” com­pared with a decade ago, said Va­lerie Son­nier, global in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty di­rec­tor at Louis Vuit­ton Mal­letier. China has done “much more than some other coun­tries,” she said.

Son­nier cited gov­ern­ment crack- downs on so­phis­ti­cated coun­ter­feit­ing rings in south­ern China’s Guang­dong prov­ince that pre­vented ex­ports of fake Louis Vuit­ton bags to Dubai and the US.

Margo Fowler, Nike’s chief in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty of­fi­cer, echoed those sen­ti­ments, ex­press­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion for “the growth in China’s IP sys­tem in ex­tend­ing trade­mark sta­tus and pro­tec­tion” to Nike, its Swoosh logo and “Just Do It” slo­gan.

Both com­pa­nies have seen a surge in sales from China as af­flu­ent con­sumers em­brace high-end brands. Nike’s an­nual rev­enue from China last year was US$5.1bil, more than dou­bling since 2013.

Of 50 coun­tries in the US Cham­ber of Com­merce’s In­ter­na­tional IP In­dex, which mea­sures com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing in­no­va­tion through le­gal rights, China ranks 25th.

It earns praise in the sur­vey for its re­forms on patents and copy­right, but loses marks for the high lev­els of in­fringe­ment and in­suf­fi­cient le­gal safe­guards.

At the expo fo­rum, sev­eral Chi­nese of­fi­cials touted the na­tion’s progress on crack­ing down on fakes, while reit­er­at­ing the coun­try’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to go fur­ther. Still, some com­pa­nies there said IP pro­tec­tion re­mains a con­cern in China.

“It’s un­re­al­is­tic to ex­pect any coun­try to root out coun­ter­feit­ing and IP in­fringe­ment com­pletely,” said Wang He­jun, chief of the trade rem­edy and in­ves­ti­ga­tion bureau at China’s Min­istry of Com­merce.

“One shouldn’t rashly im­pose uni­lat­eral sanc­tions and dis­rupt mul­ti­lat­eral rules be­cause of a few prob­lems with IP pro­tec­tion.” — Bloomberg

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