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29 July 2015

As counterfeit hawkers get younger and move to social media, Hong Kong Customs fights back with AI

People who sell fake goods online are no doubt aware that there is always a chance the interested shopper they are communicating with might be a law enforcement agent; but in Hong Kong, those potential customers might not even be humans at all. The Customs and Excise Department of the Special Administrative Region this week unveiled SocNet, a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to flag up suspicious vendors on social media sites - an anti-counterfeiting RoboCop of sorts.

01 May 2015

Customs steps up efforts in fight against counterfeit cosmetics

The Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department has made significant efforts to tackle counterfeit cosmetics on the Hong Kong market, and has urged IP rights owners to record their rights with Customs to facilitate such anti-counterfeiting efforts. Among other things, Customs has set up an electronic recordal co-ordination centre, introducing video conferencing and 3D printing technologies.

23 April 2015

Court expresses concern over making a declaration of infringement where no defence is filed

In Biostime International Investment Limited v France Heson Paper (Hong Kong) Co Limited, the High Court has expressed its concern about making a declaration of infringement in circumstances where the defendant had not filed a defence. This case demonstrates that declarations are most likely to be ordered following a contested trial, rather than in an application for default judgment.

07 May 2014

Hong Kong court calls for proactive measures against shadow companies

In two recent cases, Zervos J of the Hong Kong Court of First Instance has re-opened the debate about shadow companies in Hong Kong. Despite changes to the Companies Ordinance in 2010 aimed at dealing with the shadow companies problem, the judgments expressed the view that the amendments do not adequately deal with the problem and called for proactive measures to be taken by the Companies Registry to deal with the root of the problem.

24 October 2013

Why Hong Kong’s parody consultation could impact trademark enforcement

Hong Kong is currently undertaking a public consultation exercise regarding the treatment of parody in its copyright regime. That process involves soliciting the views of interested stakeholders and then drawing up a proposal that strikes an ideal balance between copyright protection and freedom of expression. Brand owners are advised to keep an eye out, as any potential parody-related developments could be used as an additional weapon against trademark infringers, if the circumstances are right.

03 October 2013

Consumer attitudes towards counterfeits in Hong Kong slowly changing

Although new research indicates that 73% of respondents in Hong Kong have purchased counterfeit products, more positive for brand owners is that the percentage that would do so again is dropping for certain industries. The findings provide practical takeaways for brand owners in other jurisdictions in terms of changing consumer attitudes towards fake goods.

17 January 2013

Judgment identifies limits to exclusive use of well-known trademarks

In Stichting BDO v Banco De Oro Unibank Inc, the Hong Kong High Court has reminded that the reputation attached to a well-known trademark is not limitless, but must be viewed in the context of the relevant goods or services. It was not disputed that the plaintiffs' BDO mark was well known for accountancy-related services, but the court rejected the wider claim that its fame extended to all non-similar goods or services.

17 May 2012

Shadow company loses passing-off case and pays the price

In Wyeth LLC v Wyeth (China) Limited, a Hong Kong court has found that the defendant intended to pass off the plaintiff's goodwill in the WYETH marks (in English and Chinese). Interestingly, the defendant rejected the plaintiff's sanctioned offers to settle the case and was ordered to pay the plaintiff's legal costs on an indemnity basis and additional interest.

04 November 2010

Commencement date announced for shadow companies reform

It has been announced that the proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s Companies Ordinance, which introduce measures to deal with ‘shadow companies’, will come into effect next month. Under the amended law, the registry will have the power, in certain circumstances, to change the name of a company.

21 July 2010

Shadow companies amendments to become law

The Legislative Council has passed the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2010. The most eagerly awaited changes for IP practitioners and brand owners relate to the issue of shadow companies. Previously, if a shadow company ignored the registrar’s direction, nothing happened. However, from the bill’s implementation, the registrar will be able to substitute the company’s name with its registration number.

19 February 2010

Measures to combat shadow companies proposed

The government has published the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2010, which proposes various amendments to the Companies Ordinance. Among other things, the bill introduces measures to tackle the issue of shadow companies. Although the proposed amendments are good news for brand owners, many feel that they are not sufficiently far-reaching.

02 April 2009

Trade Descriptions Ordinance introduces new offences

The Hong Kong Trade Descriptions (Amendment) Ordinance has introduced amendments aimed at combating unfair trade practices and increasing consumer confidence. The amendments include two new criminal offences relating to false or misleading representation in relation to goods.

23 February 2009

IP rights awareness in Hong Kong hits all-time high

Public awareness of IP rights has reached record levels in Hong Kong, according to a survey commissioned by the Intellectual Property Department.

15 September 2008

New offence under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance

The Trade Descriptions (Amendment) Ordinance 2008 has introduced a new offence of false or misleading representation in regard to a seller's connection with another party, which is akin to statutory passing off. The ordinance was published in the Government Gazette on June 27 2008 but has yet to come into force.

28 April 2008

Government steps up fight against shadow companies

The government has announced a public consultation on the amendments to the Companies Ordinance. One of the amendments aims to tackle the issue of shadow companies. Among other things, the consultation document proposes that the registrar of companies be empowered to enforce a court order directing a shadow company to change its name on the grounds that it is similar to a registered trademark.