Protecting the Beats

By Ellen Szymanski

All over America, people are typing furiously on their smart phone or bopping along to some tunes through their headphones. Have you ever thought about how many of those devices could be a dangerous counterfeit? With recent news reporting counterfeit cell phone chargers electrocuting two people in China, we are glad to see the U.S. and Chinese governments working together to ensure that you don’t have to worry if your Beats by Dr. Dre or new Samsung Galaxy phone is a counterfeit device.

Yesterday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and China’s General Administration of Customs, announced the seizure of 243,000 counterfeit consumer electronics as the result of a month-long joint operation. The seizure included an array of electronic devices which consumers like you or I use every day, including products from Apple, Dr. Dre, Blackberry, Samsung, and Sony. The joint enforcement effort also resulted in the arrest of an American citizen who imported counterfeit Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and sold them to unknowing consumers on Craigslist.

This joint action is actually not the first we heard of but it has been a while. In 2004, two Americans were arrested in China with over 210,000 counterfeit DVDs following a joint effort by the U.S. and Chinese governments to fight IP violations in both markets. In 2007, China’s Public Security Bureau in cooperation with the F.B.I. found a warehouse with $2 billion worth of counterfeit software.  Known as Operation Summer Solstice, it was the largest counterfeit software raid in history. We are hopeful that the announcement signals reinvigorated efforts at this type of cross-border cooperation.

Following the most recent Strategic & Economic Dialogue, U.S. and Chinese government officials vowed to work together to implement IP rights enforcement efforts in order to reduce the export and sale of counterfeit goods. Officials from both governments today applauded the result of the enforcement operation, duly noting the importance of IP protection to innovators and consumers alike. Zou Zhiwu, Vice Minister of GACC, stated that “the success of this joint operation fully proves that earnest and effective cooperation cross the border is needed to curb the movement of counterfeit products.”

We encourage China to continue to work with the U.S. government on joint enforcement actions in the future, so that consumers can safely keep on rocking to the beat.

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