Friday, February 27, 2009

Counterfeiters Demand the Right to Pirate

Recently shut down counterfeit goods sellers are angry. They want China to allow them to continue to break the law.

From The International Herald Tribune:

BEIJING: Any tourist who has stepped foot in this city's famous Silk Street Market can testify that it is home to some of the wiliest, most tenacious vendors who ever tried to pawn off a fake handbag on a naïve foreigner.

So when the market managers temporarily shut down 29 stalls this month for selling counterfeit goods, no one expected the merchants to quietly acquiesce to the loss of business.

"We expected trouble," said Zhao Tianying, a legal consultant with IntellecPro, a Beijing intellectual property firm representing five foreign luxury-brand manufacturers who sued the market for trademark violations. "But we never imagined this."

The vendors have responded with the same ferocity with which they nail down a sale. Dozens of them have staged noisy weekly protests at the law firm, mocking the lawyers as bourgeois pawns of foreigners. They have confronted witnesses who had provided evidence of trademark violations and filed their own countersuit, claiming only the government can shutter a business.

A few characters scrawled in pencil on the wall outside IntellecPro's office sums up their message: "We want to eat!"

Read On
While I can understand that the sellers want to have the opportunity to do the work that they've chosen to do in their lives, I don't have too much sympathy for them. They're blatantly breaking intellectual property laws and probably making a decent amount of money doing so.

In the post I made a few weeks ago entitled "Fake Chic," a reader, Alex, left the following message:
It would seem that our Western obsession with abstract notions of "real" and "fake" mean nothing in a part of the world where filling your belly is not a certainty.
Now I agree with Alex that a lot of rural China and the poorer people who buy "shanzhai" goods don't even have very concrete concepts of what real and fake are. But I do not believe that Alex's sentiments apply in this situation: the Beijingers currently protesting, who sell fake Prada hand bags to westerners, are probably not struggling to eat. And the buyers of their goods are mostly westerners, obviously people not struggling to eat.

I know that the owners of the hundreds of fake goods' stalls in Xi'an's Muslim Quarter are famous (maybe notorious is a better word) for being shrewd and rich from their sales of fake goods.

I have a slight bit more sympathy for the shanzhai transactions that go on in the countryside or outside of major metropolitan areas. While still wrong, I can at least understand why the buyers need the cheap items and that both parties in the transaction are, to a degree, ignorant of the laws they're breaking.

But sellers of blatantly fake Louis Vuitton bags or Rolex watches in Beijing or Xi'an or Shanghai, who are most likely making very good money off of their transactions, know what they're doing is wrong. For that reason, this story of their shops being closed down certainly doesn't break my heart or anything.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Redirect from Peiking Duck to here.It is nice to see something new from an expat. As a native Chinese,this story is not "shock" ,and can be summerized is a Chinese word- ShanZhai.This word is the "China's new hot words" by Google analyze which means copycatting,and can be translated into the mountain strongholds of bandits.Next time learn to speak "ShanZhai" in front of the vendors ,he/she will remember you and respect you.

Enjoy your "7kuai" CDs, HiPhone ,illegal downloading,though I know you can afford it.Be there,do here.

Last but not least, wish you have more shagging in China,you know ,I envy you most at this point.

ps; ignore my typo and I,m learning it.