Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

China’s Blatant Disregard for International Law- Patent Infringment in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on July 27, 2010

China joined the WTO, and when they did so, they promised to do a few things, in order to be a member in good standing. Two of those things were to promote the rule of law and to enforce intellectual property rights protection.
The following article shows just hwo well China is living up to those promises. The article shows companies that are making “IPAD copies’, ie fake Ipads. This is a little amazing to me, as making and selling a fake IPAD is quite illegal. For instance, the law states that one cannot even make a company logo or symbol that can remotely be misconstrued by the purchaser to be that of a competitor or a brand that is not one’s own. Thus, making IPAD clones, replete with the Apple logo would surely qualify as an illegality.
But this is China, so the chinadaily runs this article saying that China should do less pirating and more innovating.
IF you want to make an analogy, substitute drugs for IPADS. This article is like showing a bunch of weed producers sitting around and growing weed, and bragging about how much money they make. The police know where they live, now where their companies are, even interview them, then they leave. They take no legal action although by their constitution and laws they should. China has a looooooooooooooooooooooongggg way to go. Probably thousands of years.

article from the chinadaily showing Chinese companies breaking the law, yet doing nothing about it.

Copy-making vs profit-making

Workers are busy with iPad lookalikes on the assembly line in Shenzhen Great Long Brother Industrial Company.

Lining up to buy a new gadget is nothing new for an Apple fan, but the new hot iPads and iPhones are ringing in a new level of Apple hysteria. On Friday, the stores that sell Apple products in Hong Kong sold out of all their iPads within hours of the first day of their launch. Some stores sold out within 30 minutes.

In Shenzhen, a city in southern China adjacent to Hong Kong, the iPad’s hot popularity was defined by the speed in which low quality knockoff products were manufactured to copycat the iPad. Only 60 days after Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPad in January, small electronic firms in Shenzhen were developing and producing iPad lookalikes.But even though mobile phones, mp3 players, GPSs and computers that copy the looks and features of branded goods have flooded the consumer electronics market in China, the iPad clones are slower coming into the market.

Manufacturers in Shenzhen have realized that it is becoming more difficult to cash in on iPad fever no matter how fast they are copying it, when the only thing left for them to copy is the looks of the original gadget. And with rising labor costs and a shrinking demand for cheap low-end products, the space for them to make money has become limited.

Many companies lost the battle of netbook PCs last year, and they’ve discovered that lowering the cost of production is a mission impossible when all the major parts are purchased from other companies.On the fourth floor of an outdated building in Shenzhen, tablet PC maker Wu Xiaolong brought out a 10.2-inch touch screen PC and photocopy of a patent license. He claims that Apple’s iPad stole the design of his product called the P88. Wu has drawn the attention of many reporters from around the world, wanting to talk to him about his claims. He is not planning to sue Apple at the moment, since the iPad is not yet selling on the mainland, he said.

Although reporters flocked to Wu’s company, Shenzhen Great Long Brother Industrial Co., Ltd, the four assembly lines of his company are not moving very fast. Wu had learned his lesson: business is not as profitable as it once was. Adjacent to Wu’s office, two assembly lines in the production room are empty. The third one is working on products for other companies. And only one line is working on the touch screen PC, with a dozen workers assembling computer parts for the P88.Wu Xiaolong’s P88 is priced at nearly 4,000 yuan, a higher price than Apple’s iPad. “Designing and developing a new product is expensive and risky. If the engineers can’t come up with a solution for my new product, I will lose money, ” Wu Xiaolong said. Last year, Wu’s netbook business was bleak when the market was flooded with low quality netbooks. So this time, Wu is more cautious. Even though iPad global sales eventually hit three million, Wu still hasn’t started massive production of his P88 – not before he receives a large order.

Wu said his factory is capable of producing 1,000 tablet PCs each day. With no retail business of his own, most of the orders come from foreign countries.

Wu didn’t want to say how many of his tablet PCs have been produced or sold. “It’s a business secret,” he said.Although Wu Xiaolong insisted that his product is not a knockoff of the iPad, other companies in Shenzhen are willing to admit they are iPad followers. Wu Yebin, operating director of Teso Computer Technology Company, claims to have developed the first copycat iPad within 60 days of Apple’s launch.

According to Li Yi, founder of discloser.net, an electronics industry chain forum, more than 50 companies have poster ads on the walls at the delivery companies, advertising that they provide iPad lookalikes. The delivery companies act as a sort of middleman in the sales of the knock-off gadgets.For those smaller manufacturers, developing a copycat iPad is not a cheap investment. In order to save money, some smaller companies are chipping in to share the mold making and purchasing for the plastic casings and electronic parts together.

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