I’m guessing that very few industries or companies are immune from having their intellectual property ripped off by Chinese firms. This includes trademarks, patents, and (yes, my favorite subject) copyrights. The music and movie businesses are the most well-known victims, but whether you’re in high tech, low tech, or any form of the arts, your assets are likely to have been stolen.
Companies spend millions of dollars fighting counterfeits. Unfortunately in our niche art publishing & licensing industry, that’s just not an option. We’ve taken the low budget / high exhaustion route of confronting infringers one by one at the biggest Chinese export trade shows for home décor. A mix of embarrassment, threats, education, persuasion, and encouragement is, astonishingly, making a huge difference. We just returned from our sixth Art Copyright Coalition counterfeit hunting trip, and I’m thrilled to say the downward trend in rip-offs continues.
The Chinese government is placing renewed emphasis on the need for copyright protection, as are trade show organizers. Retailers throughout the world are insisting on being sold legitimate product. There is a slow, gradual macro shift in Chinese attitudes toward copyrights, but our micro bottom-up efforts over the years have made an impact specifically on the home décor business.
Is our time and expense and physical wear worth the effort? I’ll deflect the question and instead quote a Vermonter, Calvin Coolidge:
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”