The Curious Case of Fake Beijing Olympics Merchandise

This chapter closely scrutinizes the intellectual property developments during the Beijing Olympics to determine whether this important world event has provided the much-needed example to show that China could effectively address the counterfeiting problem when national interests are at stake.

As this chapter will show, the case of fake Beijing Olympics merchandise is rather curious. Even though there undeniably is a significant reduction of this merchandise in Beijing and other major cities during the Olympic Games, fake merchandise was widely present in other parts of the country. To a large extent, the presence of fake Olympic merchandise has shown that the challenge of confronting counterfeiting in China is more a reality than an excuse. It also provides an instructive example for understanding what the Chinese government can and cannot do in its effort to combat massive counterfeiting, the necessary complements for success, and the remaining challenges concerning efforts to protect trademark rights in such a large, complex, and highly populous country.

This chapter begins by describing the measures that the Chinese government and the Beijing municipality had taken in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. It then explains why the case of fake Beijing Olympics merchandise provides an instructive example of the challenges to combating massive counterfeiting in China. In particular, this chapter explains the local protectionism problem, the need for both the government will and the people’s will, and the inevitable trade-offs concerning the use of enforcement resources. The chapter concludes with some lessons on the future protection of trademark rights in China.


Featured here is an abstract of a paper by Peter K. Yu, IP Osgoode Research Affiliate, Kern Family Chair in Intellectual Property Law and Founding Director of the Intellectual Property Law Center at Drake University Law School. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Professor Yu is a leading expert in international intellectual property and communications law. He also writes and lectures extensively on international trade, international and comparative law, and the transition of the legal systems in China and Hong Kong. The full article can be found here.

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