China To Crack Down On Counterfeiters

BEIJING (AP) -- China is launching a new crackdown on copyright violations and shoddy products that will target everything from high-tech goods to food, the country's public security minister said Wednesday.

The anti-piracy campaign kicks off at the end of October and will run for half a year, Minister Meng Jianzhu told visiting U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who offered Washington's assistance in tracking violators.

Meng said it would target all parts of the economy and promised to prosecute pirates to the full extent of the law.

"This special campaign will target all IPR (intellectual property rights) infringement or violations no matter which industry or sector, be it high-tech or audio and video products or food and other products," Meng said.

Past Chinese anti-piracy campaigns have had little impact, although the latest campaign was approved at a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, ensuring officials will at least be held partly to account for its success or failure. Along with phony products in shops, it will target those sold on the Internet or exported abroad, according to a notice issued by the State Council, China's cabinet, late Tuesday.

Holder called intellectual property violations a matter of "grave concern" for the United States. China is listed by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative as one of the worst global IPR violators.

China has a thriving industry producing counterfeit or adulterated goods of all types, some of which -- such as phony baby formula and fake brake pads -- pose serious health and safety threats.

Tourist markets openly display phony Fendi, Burberry and Ralph Lauren products. Hollywood movies are often available on DVD days after their theatrical releases.

Alternatively, foreign designs for everything from compact cars to iPhones are ripped off and sold under Chinese brand names that often differ only by a letter or two from their original monikers.

American and other foreign nations complain that Chinese counterfeiting deprives their companies of billions of dollars, while experts say poor protection of intellectual property also stifles domestic innovation and prevents Chinese companies from rising up the value-added chain.

Experts complain that China's penalties are too low and enforcement too lax to act as a deterrent to piracy.