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Non-Prosecution Agreement Announced in Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Chinese Criminal Copyright Case

On December 13, 2021, the Shanghai Third Branch of the Procuratorate (上海检察三分院) announced  a non-prosecution agreement with a Li XX for uploading Underwriters Laboratories (UL) documents, including standards, to a file sharing site and charging others to download the documents, thereby earning about 14,000 RMB (~$2,200 USD).

The Procuratorate explained,

Among standard documents, mandatory standards are of a legal nature and therefore do not have copyrights; while voluntary standards are original and are protected by copyright law. UL standards are voluntary standards, which are researched, developed and published by Underwriters Laboratories of the United States. Underwriters Laboratories of the United States has the copyright to the UL standard.

Li’s behavior of copying and distributing UL standard documents through the Internet for profit without the permission of the right holder violated the copyright of the right holder.

However, mitigating the crime was that Li’s crime was considered minor, he pleaded guilty, paid compensation to UL, and “obtained forgiveness.” Further, criminal prosecution would place undue hardship on his family as “he is the only member of the family who has a source of income and needs to take care of sick relatives.”

Shanghai has been cracking down on criminal copyright and trademark infringement and has been imposing lengthy prison sentences in the recent past including a 6-year prison term for a Lego copyright infringer, a 4.5-year prison term for a 3M trademark infringer, and a 3-year prison term for a Kiwi shoe polish trademark infringer.

The full text of the announcement can be found here (Chinese only).

Principal, and Director of the China Intellectual Property Practice

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