Seen and heard: counterfeiting news in brief

Thailand improves IP protections, hyperspectral camera developed, blockchain for food in China, Danish IP strengthened, fake goods converted to electricity, and global IP network expands.

USTR removes Thailand from ‘priority watch list’

A US Trade Representative (USTR) investigation into Thailand’s intellectual property protection and enforcement has been closed after the country was seen to be introducing measures and addressing US concerns, World Intellectual Property Review reported. The investigation had been launched in September to review Thailand’s status on the ‘priority watch list’ in the 2017 Special 301 Report, which annually reviews IP protection and enforcement of US trading partners. The USTR concluded from the review that IP protection and enforcement had improved in Thailand – including the establishment of two committees to oversee IP policy and IP enforcement, enhanced efforts to combat counterfeit goods, and steps taken to address backlogs for patent and trademark applications. As such, the USTR moved the country from the priority watch list to the watch list.

Mobile hyperspectral camera developed

Specim Oy, a spin-off of the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, has developed a mobile hyperspectral camera, which could be used to detect counterfeit art, food fraud and spurious medicines. The mobile device, believed to be the world’s first, resembles a normal digicamera but works by measuring the intensity of light in different wavelengths when reflecting off a surface, VTT said in a news release. The measured spectrum reveals the chemical composition of a sample, generating a fingerprint, which can be compared with a legitimate spectrum in a database. The results are produced immediately, with no need for laboratory analysis, the firm said.

IBM food alliance to use blockchain in China

Retailers Walmart and, along with tech giant IBM and the Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for E-Commerce Technologies are joining forces to work together in a Blockchain Food safety Alliance to enhance food tracking and traceability in China. The initiative, which aims to improve transparency across the food supply chain, will create a standards-based method of collecting data on the origin, safety and authenticity of food by using blockchain technology to provide real-time traceability, IBM announced. The partnership and use of blockchain technology should help address the challenges around the current fragmented and error-prone data sharing systems, the firm said. The alliance follows reports that Walmart was looking to expand the technology in China and also follows the new Walmart and IBM food safety consortium that was announced in August.

Denmark and the IACC strengthen Danish IP protection in China

The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) and the Danish Consulate General in Shanghai have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will enhance Danish companies’ brand protection efforts in China, the IACC said in a statement. The agreement commits the organisations to share information on intellectual property protection, with a particular focus on fighting online counterfeits, and will see the IACC offer its MarketSafe Expansion Programme to Danish companies, which supports right holders’ IP enforcement efforts on platforms owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Fake goods turned into electricity

Thirty thousand counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes, 400 bottles of fake wine and 3,000 cans of bootleg alcohol seized across Lincolnshire, UK, have been converted into electricity and fed into the national grid, Lincolnshire Live has reported. The dodgy goods, which were the result of several raids over a six-month period, weighed in at 2,440kg.       

US expands global IP network

The US Department of Justice and Department of State have expanded their Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Co-ordinator (IPLEC) network to five global hubs in a bid to crackdown on the growing transnational counterfeit trade, the DoJ said in a statement. The initial programme was created in 2006, with the first IPLEC stationed in Bangkok, Thailand. The expanded network now includes Abuja, Nigeria; Bucharest, Romania; São Paulo, Brazil; and Hong Kong S.A.R. It is designed to ensure that experienced US prosecutors are located in “high-impact regions” to enhance the capacity of individual countries to investigate and prosecute IP crimes, and to develop regional networks to more effectively deter and detect IP infringement.

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