Real-name registration system for parcels gives hope to IP rights holders


Following a severe mail bomb case in Hangzhou City last year, the Ministry of Public Security of China is planning to implement a real-name registration system to strengthen the surveillance of mail parcels and prevent similar violent crimes. Under the real-name registration system, senders must show and register their ID information when sending a parcel. Zhejiang Province has become the first province to experiment the registration system; if the experience is successful, the ministry will roll out the system throughout China.

One of the biggest headaches for IP rights owners is the large number of independent websites (ie, websites with their own domain name, not sellers in a marketplace like Taobao) that use servers outside China and sell counterfeit goods to consumers outside China, but are actually operated by infringers within the country. The common working pattern for these infringing websites is as follows: the infringer cybersquats a domain name that is similar to a big brand, then redirects the users of other websites to its own website to sell infringing goods illegally.

The biggest hurdle for IP rights owners is how to track and locate the counterfeiters. Usually little contact information is available on the websites, or fake names and addresses are provided. This makes it very difficult to catch the operators of the websites. IP rights owners face increased costs to carry out investigations, which have no real prospects of success.  

The most common solution is to file a domain name dispute to recover the domain name in question. However, the arbitration costs are still greater than those incurred by the infringers to build a brand new website. Therefore, this solution is not cost-efficient.

Consequently, the real-name registration system might give hope to IP rights owners in their fight against infringing websites. Once the system has been officially approved and implemented, it will be easier for IP rights owners to catch the infringers and to discover valuable clues leading to the actual operators of the websites.

Once the operators have been located, IP rights owners may choose between multiple anti-counterfeiting strategies, such as administrative/criminal raids and actions for damages. IP rights owners should thus pay close attention to the real-name registration system.

Zhigang Zhu and Danliang Wang, Wan Hui Da Law Firm & Intellectual Property Agency, Beijing

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