COVID-19 has without a doubt delivered a boom to the e-commerce world, as the pandemic generates a higher demand in online shopping worldwide.
Recent State Council figures released, point to a 34.7% YOY increase in cross-border e-commerce, whilst offline channels saw a drop of 6.4%. These statistics released at Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council on 18 April 2020, pointed out that although a significant number of international flights had been cancelled due to COVID-19, in Q1 2020, the total transportation of international parcels (inclusive those between mainland China and HK/ Taiwan) had exceeded 320 million pieces. This represents a 9.5% increase YOY. It is anticipated cross border e-commerce will continue to increase under COVID-19 and beyond.
More inspections, lower number of items seized
Recent China Customs IPR seizure numbers were released on 26 April 2020, which found that for Q1 a total of 8,214 shipments had been intercepted. Of these, 7,724 shipments had officially been seized as infringing items uncovered exceeded 1.492 million pieces.
This is in comparison to the first half of 2019, where China Customs IPR seized shipments amounted to 6,241, containing 23.81 million pieces.
China Customs shipment seizure numbers for Q1 2020, outnumbered the whole first half of 2019 even though the seizure quantity was much lower than that of 2019. This indicates that China Customs is allocating more inspection resources at postal and courier transportation channels which is resulting in a higher number of seizure case numbers, but a lower quantity of items are being seized.
The impact of the Lan Wan Campaign
These figures seem to demonstrate that China Customs’ “Lan Wan Campaign” (Blue Network 蓝网) is having a positive impact for IP holders. The Lan Wan Campaign was launched on the 6th March 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, to fight against IPR infringement at cross border e-commerce transportation channels. Customs inspections have been ramped up to focus on a range of consumer goods including foodstuffs, medicines, biotech items, cigarettes, watches, clothing, footwear, handbags, electronics, toys and personal care products.
In addition to increases in inspection rates at postal and courier channels throughout 2020, China Customs aims to root out cross border e-commerce infringing networks, by seeking closer cooperation with e-commerce platforms and with police.
China Customs has been utilizing “big data” to obtain specific information concerning particular online sellers on e-commerce platforms once a case is officially filed. This data will help to build a stronger and bigger case than a case based on seizure quantity alone.
Tips for IP rights holders on active participation in the Lan Wan Campaign (蓝网)
- Ensure you collect as much intelligence as you can concerning cross-border e-commerce infringing networks, including online monitoring, test purchases and undertaking physical investigation.
- Share intelligence with Customs officers at key ports from which infringing goods are shipped out.
- Communicate with key port Customs officers to understand the support needed by officers.
Written by: Zoe Liu