Hong Kong Customs, joined by four local Internet Service Providers (ISPs), trade associations and intellectual property rights (IPR) owners of a number of brand names, today (November 7) kicked off a new scheme to promote auctioning with integrity on the Internet.
The four local ISPs providing auction sites are eBay Hong Kong, GO2HK Ltd., SUNeVision RED-DOTS Ltd., and Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd..
The participating trade associations include the Entertainment Software Association, IFPI (Hong Kong) Group Ltd., Motion Picture Association, and Motion Picture Industry Association Ltd. while the brand name owners are adidas-Salomon International Sourcing Ltd., Burberry Asia Ltd., Chanel Ltd., GUCCI Group (Hong Kong) Ltd., LVMH Fashion Group, Nike Inc., Sony Computer Entertainment Hong Kong Ltd., and Sony Corporation of Hong Kong Ltd..
The Head of the Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau, Mr Tam Yiu-keung, said in the press conference that this was another strategic partnership formed between Hong Kong Customs and the industry to protect intellectual property rights following the set up of the Intellectual Property Rights Protection Alliance (IPRPA) in March 2004.
"With the growing popularity of electronic auctioning, Customs officers have all along been staying vigilant, guarding against people using the popular platform of Internet auction sites to sell counterfeit goods.
"Such unscrupulous practices are being closely monitored and will be strenuously suppressed by Customs officers. We strive to promote industry cooperation in speedy removal of infringing items on the local auction sites by building the mutual trust between intellectual property rights owners and operators of auction sites," Mr Tam said, noting that this would help consumers shop with peace of mind on the Internet.
Under the new Scheme "E-Auctioning with Integrity", the participating ISPs will step up their monitoring of goods auctioned on their sites. As soon as the IPR owners come across any suspected counterfeit goods being auctioned, they will alert the auction sites concerned. The auction sites will then take prompt action to remove the items in question from the sites based on the trust built up with the participating IPR owners under the scheme.
Mr Tam said the Scheme would be a highly effective measure by the industry to prevent and stop piracy activities at auction sites.
He said, "With this pro-active move of the IPR industry players, Customs officers will be able to direct more resources to deal with counterfeiting crimes on the Internet that involves syndicated activities or of a more serious nature."
Under the close surveillance and information exchange between HK Customs, ISPs, and IPR owners, Mr Tam held that potential offenders would find it much harder to evade detection.
To maintain speedy and timely exchange of information, all participating organisations can make use of the IPRPA website at http://www.iprpa.org.
Mr Tam warned that unlawful infringing activities will lead to criminal investigations and prosecutions.
Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, a person commits an offence if he has, in his possession for sale or for any purpose of trade, any goods to which a forged trade mark or a false trade description is applied. The maximum penalty is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.
Under Copyright Ordinance, anyone who is found in possession of any infringing article for commercial purpose is liable to prosecution. The maximum penalty is four-year imprisonment and a fine of $50,000 per infringing article.
In terms of Internet IPR crime, 6 cases were cracked in 2004 and the corresponding figure for 2005 is 10 cases in the first 10 months of the year.
Co-hosting the press briefing were the Director of the E-Commerce Service of Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Limited, Mr Arthur Chow; and the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories Motion Picture Industry Association Ltd, Mr Woody Tsung.
Ends/Monday, November 7, 2005