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Fri, Jan 28, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Counterfeiters costing firms millions

BLOOMBERG

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, L'Oreal SA and other French companies lose a combined US$10 billion a year to copyright, patent and trademark theft, a French official said, pointing to Chinese counterfeiters as major culprits.

France, which had 9.6 percent unemployment in November, loses 30,000 jobs a year because of counterfeiters, said Benoit Battistelli, commissioner of the National Institute for Industrial Property, the French patent office. Fake goods, including about 10 percent of French cosmetics, are valued as high as 300 billion euros (US$392 billion), he said.

"Counterfeiting isn't as risky but is more profitable than drug trafficking," Battistelli said in an interview while attending a Hong Kong conference on intellectual property rights.

"Counterfeiting is a major issue between China and France." Under pressure from trading partners such as the US, China set up a task force last year, headed by Vice Premier Wu Yi (吳儀), to step up the crackdown on counterfeiters. China said on Dec. 21 it would make theft of intellectual property punishable by as much as seven years.

China still isn't doing enough to enforce copyright and trademark laws, former US Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said during a visit to China this month before his tenure ended.

Copyright violations cost US companies as much as US$25 billion a year.

Piracy Curbs China is trying to curb piracy, Li Dongsheng, vice minister for State Administration for Industry and Commerce, said in an interview today at the Hong Kong conference. Rather than sue Chinese companies they suspect of piracy, foreign companies can appeal to the local branch of his agency for redress, Li said.

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