The Quality Brands Protection Committee of China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment (referred to as QBPC) was founded in 2000. Over the past 20 years, QBPC has been committed to actively promoting IPR protection and building bridges between its member enterprises and China's relevant IPR government departments and judicial organs, so to promote communication and cooperation and create a fair and orderly legal environment for economic development.
When members encounter difficulties in protecting their IPR in China, why would they go straight to QBPC for advice and solution? And what measures would QBPC take to help members to deal with those difficulties? Recently, one QBPC member, Genius GmbH (referred to as "Genius") and their successful operation in Ningbo, gave clear answers to these questions.
“Genius is a German kitchen appliance company, and its' Genius Nicer Dicer Plus' vegetable cutters are highly recognizable and reputable in the international market. Since 2018, Genius has found counterfeits of its brand in many parts of the world, which has dealt a serious blow to the goodwill of the brand. When the infringing products were sold in Europe, some consumers were injured by the blade that fell off. And that has made Genius determined to investigate and destroy the fake products, vigorously maintain the brand and reputation of the company and protect the interests of consumers.” Asnain Kaysar, the Legal Counsel of Genius said, “In August 2018, Ningbo Customs found a batch of vegetable cutters that were about to be exported to a certain country in Europe by Jingning Import and Export Co., Ltd. (referred to as the exporter). As these goods were using marks that were similar to the trademark of Genius filed in the customs system and were suspected of infringing Genius’ IPR, the customs immediately detained the goods and timely notified Genius. Afterwards, Genius found out that the above vegetable cutters also infringed its patent right, so Genius filed a lawsuit with Ningbo Intermediate Court, requesting the court to order the exporter to immediately stop selling the infringing products, compensate Genius for the economic losses and ask Ningbo Customs to destroy all the products detained. Genius also simultaneously submitted a property preservation application to the court, and the court then seized 12600 sets of vegetable cutters in the customs warehouse in accordance with the law. In October 2019, Ningbo Intermediate Court ordered the company to immediately stop selling the infringing products and compensate Genius for 120,000 yuan of economic losses. Considering that Ningbo Customs was not a party to the case nor a subject of liability in the civil case, the court rejected Genius's request for the customs to destroy the infringing products.”
As a result, after the case was filed and executed, the vegetable cutters impounded in the customs warehouse could not be auctioned or paid off because they were infringing products, nor could they be destroyed according to the judgment. Genius was thus trapped in the dilemma of being unable to destroy the fake products after winning the case.
To solve the problem, Michael Liu of Beijing Hylands Law Firm, Genius’ representative, communicated with Ningbo Intermediate Court and Ningbo Customs several times for a solution, but the replies he received were all uncertain. In order to have the infringing goods successfully destroyed after being unsealed, Michael contacted Jack Chang, QBPC Vice Chair for help, at the end of August.
“We turn to QBPC for help because Genius hasn't done a particularly good job of creating and defending its IPs in China. After joining QBPC in 2018, Genius had many opportunities to attend training sessions with customs in Ningbo, Shenzhen and other regions, which led to the successful interception of those. After being a member for two years, Genius knows that QBPC has established an effective communication channel with the administrative and judicial authorities in the Ningbo area. QBPC might help to find a solution to Genius’ predicament.” Michael said.
After receiving Genius’ request, QBPC immediately started its internal procedures, informing the chairs to discuss and work out a possible solution. “Ji Ying, Chair of QBPC Customs Committee, while in coordination with both the Ningbo Customs and Genius, learned the nuances of the case and offered valuable suggestions and comments. Finally, with great help from QBPC, Ningbo Intermediate Court, Ningbo Customs and other parties, all the infringing goods were destroyed. Jack Chang commented, “QBPC is an organization formed by IP counsels of global Fortune 500 companies in China. QBPC will take the difficulties encountered by every member in safeguarding their rights in China seriously and actively engage relevant government departments and industry organizations to solve problems. This is not only why we formed QBPC in the first place, but also one of the important functions of QBPC.”
The Ningbo Case is just an epitome of QBPC's efforts to help members better carry out their IP protection work. In the future, with the joint efforts of all members, QBPC will no doubt be able to provide services at even higher quality, and play a more prominent role in building a bridge of communication between members and relevant government IP departments and judicial organs in China.