Customs rolls out Fast Action Scheme in electronics fair

13 Oct 2006

Hong Kong Customs and Hong Kong Brands Protection Alliance (HKBPA) today (October 13) rolled out the "Fast Action Scheme" at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The Head of Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau, Mr Ben Ho, said, "This is the first exhibition in which Hong Kong Customs has tried out the new scheme which aims to take speedy enforcement action within 24 hours against intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement activities in large-scale exhibitions.

"We have stationed a Customs Inspector at a booth, manned by HKBPA Secretariat, to make immediate follow up action on reports received," he said.

Since the launch of the Scheme on July 10, 2006, HKBPA members have started to file IPR information of their products to HKBPR's database before exhibitions. When suspected infringement activity is found during an exhibition, Hong Kong Customs can make use of the database to enhance investigation efficiency.

After the inaugural run of the Scheme in "Hong Kong Electronics Fair" (October 13 to 16), the Department will review the operational arrangements with the HKBPA for any further enhancement of the Scheme.

Currently, the following measures are in place to attain express investigation.

  1. Specialised online system - An online system has been set up between Hong Kong Customs and HKBPA for prompt exchange of product and copyright or trademark information of members;
  2. Specialised working group - A Customs working group has been set up to handle reports of infringement activity during the exhibition; and
  3. Specialised frontline teams - The teams are ready to support the specialised working group to investigate any complaint of infringement activity.

"Joining exhibitions remains one of the best ways for trademark owners to promote their products to Mainland and international markets. As more than 80 large-scale exhibitions are held in Hong Kong each year, speedy Customs investigation is critical to suppressing infringement activities since most exhibitions only last for a few days," Mr Ho said.

He added, "While most of the exhibitors are law-abiding and infringement activity in exhibitions is not serious in Hong Kong, we are hopeful that the Scheme will serve as an effective preventative measure to strengthen IPR protection."

So far in 2006, the Department has cracked ten IPR infringement cases involving exhibitions, and resulted in the arrest of 11 persons. In 2005, nine such cases were detected with the arrest of nine persons.

Any person who contravenes the Trade Descriptions Ordinance is liable to prosecution. The maximum penalty is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Ends/Friday, October 13, 2006

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