The Supreme People's Procuratorate will intensify the crackdown on online intellectual property rights infringements and promote professional construction in the fight against online infringement to prevent cyberspace from becoming a hotbed for IPR infringement crimes.
IPR infringement has gradually expanded from the traditional physical field to online fields such as digital publishing, computer software, audio and video, and the means of committing the crime have been constantly updated, bringing difficulties to investigations, said Liu Taizong, director of the SPP's IPR Procuratorial Office.
The rise of e-commerce has also provided criminals with opportunities to sell fake goods online.
In one case released by the SPP, a criminal surnamed Hong and others sold counterfeit goods online, setting up operations in the cities of Jinjiang and Shishi in Fujian province.
From May 2019 to August 2020, Hong bought bags, sunglasses, watches and other goods with fake registered trademarks such as "Louis Vuitton" and "Dior" at low prices from two other people. Hong then asked his staff to sell the fake goods via livestream on e-commerce platforms. The sales volume reached about 14 million yuan ($2 million).
In June 2020, police in Shanghai filed a case for investigation. In September 2020, police in Fujian and Guangdong arrested Hong and his suppliers, and seized 506 pieces of goods with various counterfeit registered trademarks in Hong's warehouse, with a value of more than 500,000 yuan.
From April 2021 to April last year, Changning district procuratorate in Shanghai prosecuted 39 people including Hong at Shanghai Xuhui District People's Court on charges of selling goods with counterfeit registered trademarks.
The court sentenced Hong to five years in prison and fined him 7 million yuan for selling the goods. The remaining 38 gang members and suppliers were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to three years and six months, with some suspended sentences and fines. None of the defendants appealed.
Gong Ming, a senior prosecutor from the SPP's Procuratorial Committee, said that the Supreme People's Procuratorate set up an intellectual property procuratorial office in November 2020 to specialize in IPR work.
All provincial-level procuratorates in China have set up specialized IPR procuratorial departments, and the SPP has set up a national talent pool for IPR procuratorial work with the first group of 90 members having been selected from different fields to support the work, said Gong.
From January 2022 to March this year, procuratorates across the country prosecuted more than 15,000 people over IPR infringement, protecting the legitimate rights of rights holders at home and abroad, according to the SPP.
Procuratorates have paid close attention to IPR protection in new technologies, new forms of business, and new areas such as information technology, artificial intelligence and biomedicine, and strengthened the protection of commercial secrets to stimulate the ability of enterprises to innovate.
In addition, procuratorates said they have also strengthened IPR protection related to the Winter Olympics and the Asian Games, and punished malicious trademark registration.