CHINA

This year in Santa's sack: "Adadas" and "IVIKE" trainers

With counterfeit brands all the rage in China, children might be surprised to unwrap "Adadas" or "IVIKE" trainers on Christmas day this year. Faced with tougher laws, fakers have given up on producing exact replicas and moved on to innovative ways to reproduce brand names.

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With counterfeit brands all the rage in China, children might be surprised to unwrap "Adadas" or "IVIKE" trainers on Christmas day this year. Faced with tougher laws, fakers have given up on producing exact replicas and moved on to innovative ways to reproduce brand names.

The world's biggest counterfeit producer; China is struggling to reform its intellectual property laws. The industry represents 8% of the country's GDP, and employment for up to five million people, according to a French report by the IRPI.

Counterfeiters are not giving in easily to increasingly the stricter laws. SQNY is replacing SONY and fast food giant KFC finds itself facing KFG. Our Observers check out the latest brands on the Chinese high street.

"Kentucky Fried Chicken" becomes KFG.

A slight detail turns NIKE into IVIKE.

The famous washing brand "TIDE" is transformed into "TIDS".

"Adadas", "Adidos".. there's something for everyone!

OKAY, a copy of OLAY.

No need for an explication...

Sprite is called differently in China. One of the characters is "Jade". But here it's been replaced with an almost identical character, which means... "tyrant".

According to the Chinese translation, "Harry Potter and the big funnel".

"It's sometimes difficult for customs to know if it is indeed counterfeit or quite simply another brand; similar, but legitimate"

Huang Zhen is a lawyer in charge of intellectual property for Gide Loyrette Nouel AARPI, Shanghai.

China wants to turn around its image because counterfeiting brings it a bad reputation on an international level. The problem is that there are enormous amounts of types of counterfeiting in China. The fight against fake brands is less structured than the fight against classic counterfeiting and it's sometimes difficult for customs officers and local administrators to know if it is indeed counterfeit or quite simply another brand; similar, but legitimate.

Concerning brands like IVIKE, the shoes are probably produced locally, the business doesn't require much investment and the producers are only aiming for short term financial gains. In the time it takes to discover counterfeit activity, organise a raid on the factory and/ or launch a legal dispute, the counterfeiters have had enough time to make themselves disappear. They're rarely registered companies.

For a long time, the only victims of counterfeiting in China were foreign brands. While you still find lots of fake brands in China, we're starting to realise the problems that the industry poses."

"In the case of imitation, it's the brand owner who has to prove that there's a risk of confusion"

Francois Xavier Boulin is a lawyer specialised in defending major brand names. He works for BCTG in Paris.

Eighty percent of the cases we deal with are connected to counterfeits that come from South Asia and China. The Chinese law that protects brands is still quite new, only around twenty years old. So it's very difficult to identify the manufacturers and sellers of counterfeit goods. Only around five percent of the cases we deal with manage to identify the seller. And it's complicated and costly to launch cases from France because the law here is different between "imitation" and "copy". In the case of imitation, it's the brand owner who has to prove that there's a risk of confusion.

Many of the major brands have a department devoted to anti-counterfeit and employ private detectives. They investigate factories and sales points and then take it up with the Chinese law to get them closed down. In my opinion it's the most effective way to fight counterfeit."