Administrative enforcement of IPR is unique to China. Here are the major agencies able to conduct enforcement actions.
- State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) The Trademark Office, under SAIC, is located in Beijing and has authority over trademark registration and enforcement of trademark protection. SAIC can receive trademark applications and register trademarks. It also has the power to cancel a registered trademark, order that the sale of infringing items cease, order the destruction of infringing trademarks or products, impose fines, and remove machines used to produce counterfeit goods. Under the Law to Counter Unfair Competition, local SAIC offices have been established in the provinces for administrative enforcement of trademark rights. The local offices address trade secret misappropriation and other unfair trade practices, such as trade libel.
- State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) SIPO at the national level serves as the patent office, which examines and issues patents. However, SIPO also oversees local SIPO offices, which have authority to investigate and bring a halt to clear cases of patent infringement.
- National Copyright Administration (NCA) NCA is responsible for nationwide copyright issues, including registering copyrights, investigating infringement cases, and administering foreign-related copyright issues, including developing foreign-related arbitration rules. Though administration enforcement is available, NCA encourages complainants to use the court system due to lack of personnel.
- General Administration of Customs (GAC) Chinese customs regulations ban the import and export of goods that infringe on IPR. The IPR holder must proceed at the port of entry or exit where protection is sought to register its complaint. If the investigation concludes there is infringement, GAC has the authority to confiscate the goods, and may destroy the infringing goods and impose a fine.
[box] Read Thomas Ross’ piece on enforcing intellectual property rights in China here. [/box]