Anyone trying to stop Chinese counterfeiters learns almost immediately that most of the information that would ordinarily identify China-based owners of a URL or website is false. That makes it costly or impossible to identify a target for action, and that permits vast numbers of counterfeiters to use the Internet for direct sales to consumers with virtual impunity. This may be about to change.
On December 28, 2012, the Standing Committee for the National Peoples' Congress issued its "Decision" to require Internet users to register with their real identities. Although this has nominally been the case for years, true implementation by ISPs and others servicing the Internet has been lacking, to say the least. This time, with the Decision coming from such a high level in the Chinese government, adherence is far more likely.
The new regulation aims to ensure compliance by laying the written framework needed to police companies and individuals that do not adhere to the truth-in-registration requirements. There is significant concern that this regulation will have a chilling effect on the exercise of open discussion now enjoyed by the micro-blogs. Politics aside, however, from a trademark owner's perspective, the new decision (assuming it is in fact implemented-the actual regulatory scheme is yet to come but probably will involve getting copies of the national identity card of a proposed registrant or user) should be of significant assistance in tracking down and stopping large numbers of Internet vendors of fake or misleading goods.
We will continue to monitor these developments and will advise you accordingly. For any further questions regarding brand protection in China or elsewhere, please contact either of us at the email addresses or telephone numbers below.