September 29, 2023


Learn Business From Experience

Defending YOUR Mental Property From Alibaba and Different Chinese language E-Commerce Websites

17 min read

It’s no secret that China is the world’s leading source of counterfeit goods. Barely a day goes by with out an American or European firm contacting one in all our mental property legal professionals to get counterfeit merchandise faraway from a Chinese language e-commerce website.

Despite the fact that it could appear there’s no method to shield your model from counterfeiters on China web sites like Alibaba, this concept is definitely false. You may often simply and cheaply cease IP infringement whenever you discover it (even in China), if you already know the steps it is best to take to take action. First, although, let’s go over what precisely we imply after we’re speaking about counterfeit merchandise.

What Is a Counterfeit?

Legally talking, a counterfeit is a fraudulent copy of an merchandise. This definition consists of something from cash to electronics to luxury handbags. Counterfeit product listings stay an enormous problem on Chinese language e-commerce marketplaces equivalent to Alibaba, Taobao, Tmall, and plenty of extra.

Our legal professionals have a close to 100% success fee at getting counterfeit merchandise faraway from official Chinese language e-commerce web sites. However our success fee relies upon largely on the marketed product being a counterfeit, as that time period is usually outlined by legal professionals, not businesspeople.

Tips on how to Cease Chinese language Counterfeits

You simply found a Chinese language firm is knocking off your product. What do you do? Most firms go to their common legal professionals and ask them what to do — and most legal professionals simply don’t know.

Now what?

Reaching out to a lawyer skilled in cross-border litigation and China counterfeits is your greatest guess. There are plenty of choices for coping with Chinese language counterfeiters, and educated legal professionals like these in Harris Bricken’s mental property group are right here that will help you decide what’s greatest to your particular scenario.

Questions We Ask

Among the extra frequent questions we ask after we get an electronic mail or name asking us to tackle a China counterfeiting matter embrace:

  • What IP registrations — together with copyrights, logos, and patents — do you’ve got and the place?
  • Which (if any) of your IP registrations is the counterfeiter infringing?
  • Have you ever recorded your IP with any customs workplaces in any nation?
  • Do you imagine you maintain any copyrights that aren’t registered anyplace, and is the counterfeiter utilizing any of them?
  • Are you aware something concerning the Chinese language firm you imagine to be knocking off your merchandise?
  • Have you ever had any prior dealings or contracts with this firm?

As soon as we have now an excellent really feel to your scenario, we start discussing the following steps.

What Are Your Choices?

Protecting your intellectual property

If somebody is counterfeiting your merchandise in China, there are a number of routes you’ll be able to take:

  1. Pursuing administrative or litigation aid in China. You may sue the counterfeiter in a Chinese language courtroom. Arbitration may be an possibility when you’ve got a contract with the counterfeiters (more than likely your individual producer) that requires it.
  2. Discovering who’s importing the counterfeit merchandise. Usually, the U.S. importer is intently linked to the corporate in China that’s knocking off its merchandise.
  3. Pressuring or suing the importer. Sending a cease-and-desist letter to the importer of counterfeits of your merchandise could be an efficient method to take care of the Chinese language firm as effectively. Suing the importer typically is sensible if the cease-and- desist letter doesn’t work.
  4. Suing the Chinese language firm in a U.S. courtroom. Although suing for damages in a U.S. courtroom often just isn’t one of the best tactic to take towards a Chinese language counterfeiter, it may be a sensible transfer if it means that you can seize funds or different property belonging to the counterfeiter or get an injunction blocking its gross sales.
  5. Checking official Chinese language firm information. You may typically use the knowledge in these information to impress upon the Chinese language firm why it must cease copying your merchandise, particularly in the event that they present U.S. connections of the corporate or its homeowners, officers, or administrators.
  6. Submitting a Part 337 case with the Worldwide Commerce Fee in Washington, D.C. A Part 337 case formally declares an infringement has taken place. This motion is especially efficient when you’ve got a patent or unregistered trademark you should shield. You may typically pursue these circumstances with out having to serve the Chinese language defendant below the Hague Conference service of course of guidelines.
  7. Serving takedown notices on fraudulent e-commerce listings. Taking down counterfeits of your merchandise on e-commerce websites can oftentimes be quick, simple, and efficient. Nevertheless, the benefit of this course of is dependent upon the existence and high quality of your IP registrations.

Tips on how to Forestall Counterfeits from China Knockoff Manufacturers

It’s by no means too early to take motion to stop Chinese language firms from counterfeiting your merchandise. The perfect factor you are able to do to guard your copyright from Chinese language knockoffs is to be proactive. Plan now along with your IP filings for takedowns (and different enforcement actions) later.

Although you’ll be able to in all probability survive a Chinese language firm promoting a less expensive model of your product, your probabilities of surviving towards merchandise that duplicate your product, are legally allowed to make use of your model identify on it, and value half as a lot as yours could possibly be the dying knell to your firm. And this may occur in case you don’t take acceptable measures to protect towards malfeasance by your individual suppliers and different enterprise companions. That’s why we can not stress sufficient the significance of getting China registered logos and China non-disclosure, non-use, non-circumvention (NNN) agreements as a key a part of your counterfeit prevention technique. A China-centric NNN settlement protects your IP by guaranteeing your provider(s) is not going to promote your merchandise out its again door. Be aware {that a} Western-style non-disclosure settlement (NDA) for China will virtually actually lower your IP safety, not enhance it.

China Centric NNN Agreement

Registering China patents and China copyrights can also be necessary to your technique, however in our expertise, having a China trademark is often the quickest and best method to get offending items taken down from Chinese language web sites.

Register Your Trademark(s) with the China Trademark Workplace

Registering your logos with the China Trademark Workplace is the important first step for nearly any firm that’s having its product made in China or that faces a counterfeiting risk from China.

Although you’ll be able to generally take away counterfeit listings from foreign-facing Chinese language e-commerce websites with a trademark registration from one other nation, many Chinese language e-commerce websites require a Chinese language trademark registration to get a takedown. Additionally they often transfer significantly sooner towards counterfeiters when you’ve got a registration.

It’s because China is a first-to-file nation, that means that whoever is the primary to safe a trademark has the rights over that trademark — that additionally means you haven’t any rights in that mark till it will get registered. The trademark registration provides you the authorized capability to implement your rights to that mark, and it must be one of many items in your general technique.

It’s an excellent factor, then, that China trademark purposes are transferring a lot sooner now than they did in years previous. Our China trademark legal professionals report that it’s taking about seven months from utility to registration of a Chinese language trademark.

For any firm involved about counterfeit items coming from China, the next move must be to register your trademark with China Customs.

Register Your China IP with China Customs

Registering with China Customs is extra of a sensible choice than a authorized requirement. Although China Customs officers can conduct a search of the China Trademark Workplace’s registry to find out if items they’re inspecting infringe on a registered trademark, they often solely examine towards their company’s database.

Basically, until you register individually with China Customs, they gained’t trouble imposing your trademark.

China Customs

You may solely register with China Customs after the Trademark Workplace has issued you a trademark certificates. Although the registration course of often provides three to 5 months to your registration timeline, it’s effectively definitely worth the further wait.

You’ll want to supply Customs with details about your small business in addition to the IP you want to register. The precise paperwork often embrace:

  • A Chinese language-language copy of your small business license or certificates of incorporation
  • A replica of the Chinese language registration certificates to your trademark, patent, or copyright
  • An influence of lawyer (POA) signed and executed by the IP proprietor
  • Photos of the products for which you’re in search of safety and their packaging

After approving your utility, Customs will contact you any time they uncover a cargo of products that could possibly be infringing in your mental property. You’ll have three working days to request seizure of the products. Assuming you’re taking this motion and submit a bond, Customs will examine the cargo for you.

If Customs concludes the products are infringing, they’ll usually do one in all two issues:

  • Take away the infringing mark and donate the products to charity
  • Destroy the products if the mark can’t be eliminated

They are going to then deduct the prices related to storing and destroying the products out of your bond.

Constructing IP Partitions Exterior China

Chinese language firms can get counterfeit merchandise in the marketplace extremely shortly, which is why we frequently inform our shoppers to construct “IP partitions” in international locations apart from China. Whilst you’re ready for trademark approval, having registrations in different international locations may also help shield your IP.

Waiting for trademark approval

For instance, in case you are promoting your product in the USA and in Spain, it is best to deal with securing logos in each international locations as shortly as doable, amongst different issues. Neither trademark will technically present any trademark safety in China, however they’ll nonetheless assist get infringing advertisements faraway from web sites just like Alibaba.

In case you discover “your” product on Alibaba whereas the trademark continues to be unregistered, the probabilities Alibaba will take away it are slim. When you’ve got a Spain trademark, your probabilities of eradicating an infringing Alibaba ad clearly focused at Spanish clients are higher. The identical holds true for the USA. Having a registered Chinese language trademark, although, considerably improves your odds of efficiently eradicating the ad.

Equally necessary is stopping the offending product from reaching Spain or the U.S. Spanish Customs has the authority to dam, detain and seize incoming merchandise that violate mental property rights in Spain and different EU international locations. The USA and most different EU member states have comparable procedures.

Tips on how to Take Down Counterfeits from Alibaba and Different Chinese language E-Commerce Web sites

The method to register on Alibaba as a vendor is surprisingly easy. After establishing an account, sellers have the choice to develop into Gold or Verified Suppliers. These are paid memberships the positioning provides to reliable sellers — Verified Suppliers particularly must endure a collection of third-party audits to keep up their standing.

That stated, not each vendor wants verification to function on the positioning. Based on the Workplace of the USA Commerce Consultant’s Notorious Markets List, mental property rights holders have reported that the positioning’s controls for vetting sellers and penalizing repeat offenders are missing. This creates a breeding floor for counterfeiters.

Luckily, virtually all Chinese language e-commerce websites, together with the Alibaba household of websites, have formal inside procedures for eradicating product listings that infringe a 3rd occasion’s IP rights.

You should comply with these procedures to the letter to get these web sites to take away infringing listings. Earlier than you’ll be able to start, it’s essential to present documentation proving:

  • You exist
  • You’re the IP proprietor
  • You might have the rights to the IP in query

Documentation to provide

You may solely submit a takedown request after you’ve got submitted these paperwork and obtained verification from the e-commerce website.

Assuming all the things goes effectively, most e-commerce websites will take away the counterfeit merchandise inside per week or so after you submit your takedown request. However when issues don’t go effectively — which, judging from the amount of telephone calls and emails we get on this problem, occurs slightly incessantly — it is important to have an individual in your facet who speaks Chinese language, understands Chinese language mental property legislation, and is skilled in coping with the actual web site posting counterfeits of your merchandise.

This particular person’s job will probably be to speak with higher-level staff of the websites to elucidate why the itemizing infringes in your mental property. Generally, we discover that continuously pushing the issue to increased ranges throughout the firm is efficient for getting merchandise taken down, particularly after we clarify that issues will go simpler for them in the event that they take away the listings.

Expertise can also be necessary. Your online business’s historical past in coping with Alibaba counterfeit claims often performs a big function in how shortly the difficulty will get resolved — they name this their “good religion mechanism.” Utilizing a legislation agency that has a confirmed observe report of dependable submissions will often be one of the best and quickest method to get counterfeit listings taken down.

How Does the Course of Work?

Alibaba permits firms to file complaints about any IP infringement — together with patents, logos, and copyrights — via the Alibaba Mental Property Safety Platform (IPP Platform).

Alibaba accont eligible to seek removal of infringing links

We now have an Alibaba account that makes us eligible to hunt elimination of hyperlinks that infringe our shoppers’ IPs. We do that by submitting the next:

  • Our shopper’s “enterprise license”
  • Any formal IP registration paperwork
  • Generally, a POA signed by the shopper authorizing us to file the complaints on their behalf
  • IP registration quantity(s)
  • Title of IP
  • Identify of the IP proprietor
  • Kind of IP
  • Nation of registration
  • Time interval throughout which the IP registration is efficient
  • Time interval throughout which the IP proprietor needs to guard their IP rights

As soon as Alibaba verifies the supplied info, we offer the infringing hyperlinks. Alibaba virtually at all times removes the listings pretty shortly afterward.

Be aware that solely the copyright or trademark proprietor or its licensed consultant could make takedown requests, and websites differ as to the type of authentication they require. Whereas nearly all websites require POAs, the large Chinese language websites know our legal professionals effectively sufficient that they virtually by no means require that we offer them with a proper POA doc to attain a takedown.

Moreover, we’ll want to supply proof that you’ve got registered your IP someplace. As we beforehand talked about, whereas some Chinese language websites will take down merchandise with overseas IP registrations, China registrations are at all times higher. China is legally obligated to acknowledge copyrights owned by individuals from nations which might be events to the Berne Convention — however having a copyright registration, and particularly one from China, will assist issues run extra easily.

For complaints regarding patent rights, we additionally have to show the connection between the counterfeit itemizing and the IP being infringed. Alibaba usually then sends our grievance to the infringing occasion.

The offending vendor then has three working days to reply to the takedown with a counter-notification, which is a declare that the vendor owns the copyright. In the event that they do file a grievance, we’ll have to deny it, after which Alibaba will deal with the “dispute.” As you’ll think about, counterfeiters virtually by no means file a cross-complaint. More often than not, they simply slink away.

But when your case is like several of the opposite circumstances we’ve labored on, it gained’t be over even after the counterfeits get eliminated. As soon as the takedown course of begins, it just about continues endlessly. Counterfeiters don’t simply hand over after their first add will get taken down — that’s why firms rent us to observe and report. After we’ve eliminated the present counterfeits, we talk about what subsequent steps make sense to your firm and your scenario.

We additionally strive to determine who’s doing the counterfeiting, how they’re doing it and whether or not something could be achieved to cease it or sluggish it down. Usually, we discover that our shoppers’ counterfeiters are their personal factories or distributors. Having a China NNN Settlement may also help stop this case from affecting your organization.

NNN Agreement and distributor counterfeit

What About Counterfeits in Different Chinese language Marketplaces?

We now have achieved comparable outcomes with China’s different main and bonafide on-line marketplaces, together with and DHgate. However as you’ll count on, China’s smaller and sketchier marketplaces are extra problematic with regards to mental property safety.

These smaller web sites often lack clear directions on their web site, so we frequently have to contact somebody straight by phone to start out the method. That stated, besides within the uncommon events the place we’re coping with a pirate website, China’s e-commerce marketplaces often don’t wish to be sued for internet hosting counterfeit objects. As long as we do all of the work for them, they’ll virtually at all times take down rogue merchandise and content material.

Ought to You Sue?

Whereas our China mental property legal professionals have been profitable with virtually each takedown request we’ve filed, there are some limits to what could be achieved past eradicating Alibaba copyright infringements.

We don’t advise suing these web sites until and till we have now tried and did not get the counterfeit listings taken down. Lawsuits are costly, and primarily based on our observe report in securing takedowns, the chances are overwhelming that we’ll by no means have to file one in your behalf.

In case you’re contemplating suing the infringing firm, you’ll wish to be sure you have a powerful case and that you simply sue in the correct jurisdiction. Being sensible about your swimsuit can considerably enhance the probabilities that the judgment will get enforced.

Keep in mind: Anger Is Not a Technique

Firms that see knockoffs of their merchandise too typically wish to do “something and all the things” to cease it, however that’s not at all times one of the best use of their money and time.

Usually talking, in case you’re not promoting effectively in a rustic, otherwise you don’t plan to promote there in any respect, making an attempt to cease knockoffs there typically isn’t definitely worth the money and time. The identical goes for going after knockoffs with which your merchandise aren’t really competing.

Permit me to elucidate what I imply. A few years in the past, I went to an artwork gallery in Hanoi and noticed a portray I cherished going for round $4,500. Later that day, I noticed counterfeits of that portray promoting for under $50. I ended up shopping for the unique, which now hangs on a wall in my workplace.

Whereas it was less expensive, I by no means as soon as thought of shopping for the copy as a result of it lacked all the things the unique had. I wished a gorgeous and well-done piece of artwork, not the equal of what hangs within the rooms at a Vacation Inn Categorical.

The purpose of this anecdote is that low cost knockoffs often goal individuals who would by no means buy the true factor. The one that buys the $50 knockoff just isn’t the one who would possibly purchase the $4,500 authentic. These are two totally different markets and two totally different clients. Although it is best to completely take down infringing listings in the event that they intervene along with your gross sales, contemplate whether or not it’s definitely worth the effort and time to go after merchandise that aren’t really threatening your model.

Removing Counterfiet website links

My Copyright Is Unregistered. Can I Nonetheless Take Down Alibaba Knockoffs?

In any scenario, one of the best factor you are able to do is to first register your IP after which pursue the protections a registered standing supplies. However what must you do in case your copyright is unregistered?

Whereas registering your copyright is a clearer method to show possession, Alibaba’s IPP Platform does allow takedowns primarily based on unregistered copyrights, and our worldwide IP legal professionals have had success in doing this for our shoppers.

Like with a registered copyright, we have to file a Copyright Declare Assertion via the IPP Platform to show possession. The submission necessities are as follows:

  1. Your declare that particular hyperlinks comprise your copyrighted work and that your copyright is getting used with out your consent
  2. Your identify
  3. Proof of possession reassignment, if you aren’t the creator
  4. Date, time, and place of creation
  5. Technique of creation — for instance, pictures, programming, or recording
  6. Date of first publication
  7. Proof of first publication, equivalent to the precise location of the copyrighted work from an official web site or catalog
  8. Description of the copyrighted work’s main traits

This course of usually takes longer than if the copyright was registered with a illustration of the work — round three enterprise days if all of the required info has been submitted.

For many firms, this isn’t a DIY course of. Failing to correctly submit all the things will get your copyright takedown request despatched to purgatory earlier than you be taught that your request has been denied.

If Alibaba decides to ascertain your copyright possession, you’ll obtain the next electronic mail:

“尊敬的XX, 您好: 欢迎您使用阿里巴巴集团知识产权保护平台。 您在本平台提交的知识产权XX著作权权属证明已审核通过 请登陆http://ipp.alibabagroup.com查看并进行其它操作。 感谢您对阿里巴巴集团知识产权保护工作的关注和参与! 阿里巴巴集团知识产权保护团队 Pricey XX, Welcome to Alibaba Mental Property Safety Platform. Your submitted proof of mental property proper XX著作权 has been efficiently authenticated. Please log in to view and proceed with additional motion. Thanks to your consideration to and participation in our mental property safety. Alibaba Mental Property Safety Staff”

Now that Alibaba has established your possession of the unregistered copyright, you’ll be able to start submitting claims for every infringing merchandise throughout the IPP Platform. You’ll want to supply particular person hyperlinks to every web page the place the objects are listed on all of Alibaba’s portals, together with Taobao, AliExpress, and Tmall, amongst others.

You may comply with an identical course of for disputes on different well-known web sites, like DHgate and Making an attempt to take down counterfeits of unregistered IP on different marketplaces can get sophisticated, so in search of authorized assistance is a good suggestion for many firms.

Submitting a claim with Alibaba

Closing Ideas

Right here’s the underside line. Many firms have knockoffs of their merchandise bought on Alibaba or comparable web sites, and these knockoffs negatively influence gross sales of the true factor. Even after you efficiently file a grievance, maintaining knockoffs off these websites is like enjoying Whac-A-Mole — as quickly as you take away them, a recent spherical pops as much as change them.

So, what are you able to do? Easy. Be sure to register your China IP with the related company, in addition to report it with China Customs. Whereas taking these steps gained’t do away with counterfeits fully, they’ll actually make eliminating them so much simpler. And if you should take down infringing product listings that exist already, you’ll need somebody with expertise in your facet.

What do you suppose? Have you ever skilled any issues with China knockoff web sites?

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