Piracy in China is expanding epidemic

By ETCO
15/04/2005


Gazeta Mercantil (Notebook A - p.10) - 13/04/2005


Beijing, April 13, 2005 - Piracy and intellectual property violations in China are “an expanding epidemic,” US government undersecretary of commerce William H. Lash III said yesterday after several days of visiting the Asian country. “We visited markets, stores and malls. Piracy is increasing, it is more sophisticated, wider, more painful. ”


Lash said that efforts by the Chinese authorities against piracy - educating its citizens and changing its laws - are adequate, but insufficient. “We have to give criminals something they can understand. Criminals only respect force, ”said the undersecretary.


Lash asked Beijing to "scare the pirates out of the streets and put them in prison, which is where they should be."


"Punishment greater than profit"


"The punishment must outweigh the profit" that companies can make by making and selling pirated products, he said. But it is up to the Chinese authorities to decide what level is needed, he said.


Lash presented journalists with several pirated copies of typically American products, such as Bee decks, North Face jackets, New Balance sneakers and Ping golf clubs, all pirated.


A copy of the DVD "Sim City", which appeared in American theaters just over a week ago, is already on sale in the streets of Beijing, not only in street vendors, but also in stores.


With unusual aggressiveness for a high-ranking post, Lash urged the authorities and police to work harder, monitor closely and not let counterfeiters breathe, as they are "an organized crime network," he said.


"I saw Chinese pirated products in the jungle, in Paraguay, in Saudi Arabia, in Pakistan, in Russia ... They are everywhere," he said. Lash said counterfeiters have extensive logistical chains for their operations, including "factories, distributors, transportation, marketing and sales" in countries around the world.


Losses


Patent, design and industrial rights violations cost US companies $ 24 billion a year, he said. “Piracy is not just about CDS and jeans. It affects almost all aspects of economic production ”, including medicines, books, vehicle parts, toothpaste, food, clothing and luxury items, the undersecretary recalled.


"Our problem is not with Chinese companies, we just want them to make legitimate products, that they don't steal," he added.


Lash said that "the US does not rule out any option" when it comes to fighting Chinese piracy, including a possible claim in the World Trade Organization (WTO), but said that it is not yet time to do so.


Lash also recognized the merit of the modification of China's criminal law last year, which facilitates police intervention in cases of piracy, but warned that if it is not applied well, the law "will not be justice, but comedy".


The United States has been pressing Brazil to fight piracy, especially that linked to copyright. Last week, Washington once again postponed a final decision on whether to continue tariff benefits to the country, under study due to the occurrence of piracy here. A new position will come out in September.