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China Launches “Iron Fist” Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Plan for 2020

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) recently released its Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Action Plan for 2020 code-named “Iron Fist.”  The key tasks of the plan include strengthening law enforcement for key commodities (e.g., anti-epidemic protective gear); strengthen law enforcement in physical marketplaces; strengthening enforcement in e-commerce; and strengthening law enforcement in the intellectual property application process (e.g., trademark application process). The plan also includes regional cooperation and information sharing with statistics collection.

Main Tasks

(1) Strengthen law enforcement on key commodities. Centering on key commodities such as anti-epidemic protective articles, food, electronic products, household appliances, auto parts, clothing, packaging, etc., the SAMR will carry out law enforcement actions to investigate trademark violations and patent violations. For agricultural products and specialty products, the SAMR will step up investigation of infringement and counterfeiting of geographical indications.  Further, the SAMR will strengthen the enforcement of  intellectual property involving official logos such as the Olympic logos, and handle complaints received during important exhibitions, trade fairs, and major cultural and sports events.

(2) Strengthen law enforcement in physical markets. The SAMR will improve  investigation through various methods such as surprise inspections of markets and organize and carry out special law enforcement actions in a timely manner.  During peak consumption periods such as holidays, law enforcement inspections of both rural and urban markets will be increased.

(3) Strengthen e-commerce law enforcement. The SAMR will improve online investigation, source tracing, use information technology to strengthen the monitoring and investigation of online sales, improve the detection and identification of case leads.  The SAMR will strengthen the communication and cooperation between law enforcement departments and intellectual property rights holders, e-commerce platform operators, and logistics delivery companies, and make full use of e-commerce big data resources and logistics delivery information to provide support for law enforcement cases. The SAMR will further encourage e-commerce platform operators to protect intellectual property rights, urge them to implement the “notification – deletion – announcement” policies, and cause them to increase communication and information sharing in law enforcement cases.

(4) Strengthen law enforcement in the application process. The SAMR will severely crack down on malicious applications for trademark registration, such as malicious applications without intent for use and applications for registration with deception or other improper means. The SAMR will punish applicants and trademark agencies for illegal activities in accordance with law and has already done so for coronavirus-related trademarks.  The SAMR will also crack down patent agencies.

The SAMR plans to implement these main tasks by doing better evidence collection, investigation, regional coordination, and information sharing. 

Principal, and Director of the China Intellectual Property Practice

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