——Impact of Reforms of Professional Work by Shenzhen Customs on The Protection of Intellectual Property
On April 17, 2018, Shenzhen Customs held a meeting to introduce some recent reforms to the professional work and the impact of said reforms on the protection of intellectual property rights. Based on such impact on the protection of intellectual property rights, Shenzhen Customs gave some advices to the right holders on how to better protect their intellectual property rights.
Shenzhen Customs is one of the most active branches of China Customs, especially in the field of the protection of intellectual property rights. Moreover, Shenzhen Customs has begun to explore the protection of patent rights, in addition to other types of intellectual property rights. According to statistics, the number of patent protection cases handled by Shenzhen Customs in 2017 was five times more than the sum of all other Customs districts in China. Therefore, the work conducted by Shenzhen Customs in the protection of intellectual property generally represents the development trends of intellectual property protection of China Customs.
Recent reforms of the professional work of Shenzhen Customs
In 2017, the average Customs clearance time of Shenzhen Customs has been reduced by more than one third than the year before. However, the amount of goods passing through Shenzhen Customs is increasing at the meantime. This caused a big challenge for intellectual property protection.
Machines, instead of human forces, are applied in inspecting goods. Inspection means such as direct release after machine inspection, small X-ray machine non-invasive inspection and mobile operation with Individual official system are now being adopted. Especially, the proportion of direct release after machine inspection is very frequently used, but such method is generally unable to detect intellectual property infringement.
In internal management, the selection of the goods to be inspected and the inspection of the selected goods are done by different Customs officers. That is to say, the Customs officer who selects the goods to be inspected is not the one who inspects these goods. Moreover, the Customs officer who inspects the goods should operate exactly according to the official guideline rather than his or her own determination.
Impacts of the reforms of the professional work of Shenzhen Customs on the protection of intellectual property rights
The above reforms of the professional work by Shenzhen Customs make the inspection of goods in Customs being quite different than before. In at least the following aspects, the reforms would impact the protection of intellectual property rights in Customs.
■ The inspection methods are transformed from manual basis to intelligent basis.
■ The manner of inspecting and detecting intellectual property infringement is transformed from screening goods like looking for a needle in a haystack to screening goods based on risk-oriented data.
■ The main power of inspecting and detecting intellectual property infringement is transferred from Customs inspection officers to the staffs in case handling department within the Customs.
Advices to the right holders for getting better protection of their intellectual property rights
The above reforms of Shenzhen Customs actually caused a very big challenge of intellectual property protection in Customs. However, under this situation, Shenzhen Customs still wants to provide the right holders with better protection of their intellectual property rights. Therefore, the following advices are given to the right holders.
Generally, right holders should actively exercise their rights and do not act as sleepers regarding the protection of their rights. Since the administrative resources are limited, right holders should be the main promoters of protecting their own intellectual property rights.
The rights holders should actively provide information to help Customs to detect products that infringe proper intellectual property rights. The rights holders know their products’ market more clearly and may have more information about the on-going infringement of their IP rights. Such information would help Shenzhen Customs to locate the infringing products. It would be more efficient if the right holders can provide the Customs with the container number and/or Customs declaration number of the infringing product, so that Shenzhen Customs can most accurately locate the infringing products. In addition, the information such as the name of infringer, product name plus other information (e.g., price, transportation channels, destinations and so on), and regularity information (e.g., infringing manner and so on) would also be helpful for Shenzhen Customs to locate the infringing products.
The right holders should actively provide the Customs officers with introduction and training regarding their intellectual property rights, such as characteristics of their products and trademarks, the differences and identify tips between their products/trademarks and potential infringing products/trademarks. This can increase the familiarity of the brands at Shenzhen Customs and help Customs officers identify infringing products. In some situations where the Customs officers need to determine whether or not to release the products quickly, such as travel inspection, express delivery and so on, introductions that includes key tips of identifying genuine and counterfeiting products would provide great help.
After detecting potential infringing products, the rights holders should help the Customs officers to clearly identify whether or not the suspected products infringe their intellectual property rights. This should be done accurately and duly.
After identifying the infringing products, the rights holders should provide detailed evidence to prove the infringement of their rights. Moreover, the right holders should cooperate with Customs in the publicity regarding the achievement of this case in order to get better protection of intellectual property rights in the future.
In conclusion, under the reforms of the professional work, Shenzhen Customs is seeking for closer and more effective cooperation with the right holders to achieve better intellectual property rights protection.