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Post-Canton Fair IP Protection by China MSA

Published on 21 Mar 2024 | 2 minute read
Some good news from our strategic partner, Lusheng Law Firm

The Canton Fair is a bi-annual global import and export exhibition that takes place every April and October and is held in Guangzhou, China. It is a platform where exhibitors can present their goods to potential buyers, serving as a significant trade opportunity for growing businesses. As mentioned in our previous article: IP Enforcement at Canton Fair in China: Before and After the Covid Pandemic, published in April 2021, it is normal practice that IP right owners can submit IP infringement complaints to the on-site IP Complaint Centre, consisting of law enforcement officials from the local Market Supervision Administration (MSA), to request removal of the infringing products from further exhibition for the rest of the Canton Fair.   

However, since each session of the Canton Fair only lasts 5 days, the removal penalty may not have much impact on the infringing exhibitor who will likely continue to produce, offer for sale, and export infringing products afterwards. More often than not, IP right owners must, through their own efforts and at their own costs, take legal action against repeat infringers to achieve stronger deterrence.  

Previously, without taking legal action, IP right owners would run the risk of their products being sold by infringing parties regardless of their removal request at the Canton Fair. The good news is that in 2023, the Guangzhou city MSA emphasized that they would strengthen the full chain (pre, during and post exhibition) protection of IP rights at exhibitions, and encourage exhibiting enterprises to go global with high quality. We have aided IP right owners in reinforcing their protection post exhibition, recently handling three design patent cases that have seen this promise being implemented. 

We assisted these clients in the long-term investigation of infringing exhibitors beyond the Canton Fair. In February and March 2024, our attorneys received calls from Tianjin city and Hangzhou city MSAs respectively informing us that three design infringement cases of our luggage client we represented at the latest Canton Fair, had been transferred by the Guangzhou MSA to their respective cities for further handling as their corporate registration gave them jurisdiction over these exhibitors. These MSAs launched a new round of investigation to check if the exhibitors continued the infringement identified at the Canton Fair and filed an official case for potential administrative penalty. As the IP right owner’s representative, we were asked to support the MSAs to complete the administrative procedures before they decided on the penalties. Our client was very impressed with the follow up enforcement by the MSA system and instructed us to fully support the authority against the infringers.  

With this new practice adopted by the MSA, IP right owners will have added confidence in the Canton Fair as they are able to achieve a stronger, if not permanent, deterrence outside the Fair in a more efficient way. By extending their services to investigation post-exhibition, this new development provides IP right owners with an accessible, convenient method of identifying and punishing infringing exhibitors to ensure that they do not continue to profit from infringing products. 

Sophia Hou and Lesley Xia from strategic partner, Lusheng Law Firm, will be attending the Canton Fair along with a number of their colleagues. Please contact them if you have any questions.

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Principal and General Branch Office Manager at Lusheng Law Firm (Rouse's strategic partner)
+86 20 8595 5800
Principal and General Branch Office Manager at Lusheng Law Firm (Rouse's strategic partner)
+86 20 8595 5800