The Curious Case of Fake Beijing Olympics Merchandise

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This chapter closely scrutinizes the intellectual property developments during and in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics to determine whether this important world event has provided the much-needed example to show that China could effectively address the counterfeiting problem when national interests are at stake.

As the chapter will show, the case of fake Beijing Olympics merchandise is rather curious. Even though the sale of this merchandise was significantly reduced in Beijing and other major cities during the Olympic Games, such sale was widely present in other parts of the country. To a large extent, the presence of fake Olympic merchandise has shown that the challenge of confronting counterfeiting in China is more a reality than an excuse. It also provides an instructive example for understanding what the Chinese government can and cannot do in its effort to combat massive counterfeiting, the necessary complements for success, and the remaining challenges concerning efforts to protect trademark rights in such a large, complex, and highly populous country.

This chapter begins by describing the measures that the Chinese government and the Beijing municipality took in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. It then explains why the case of fake Beijing Olympics merchandise provides an instructive example of the challenges to combating massive counterfeiting in China. In particular, this chapter explains the local protectionism problem, the need for both the government's will and the people's will, and the inevitable trade-offs concerning the use of enforcement resources. The chapter concludes with some lessons on the future protection of trademark rights in China.

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Elgar Intellectual Property and Global Development Series

Series Title

Trademark Protection and Territoriality Challenges in a Global Economy


Edward Elgar Publishing


Northampton, MA


Irene Calboli & Edward Lee

Series Editor

Peter K. Yu