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Shanghai East China Trade Fair Halts Copy Goods

Organizers of the East China Fair have paid more attention to intellectual-property right protection this year.

"Our special task force hasn't caught or received reporting of any cases involving intellectual property right protection at the fair this year," said Tang Qingfu, vice director of Shanghai Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Commission, one of the fair organizers.

China's second largest trade fair, under way at Shanghai New International Expo Center until tomorrow, formed a special task force this year to supervise and deal with copycat disputes.

"With China already being a member of the World Trade Organization, the requirement of IPR protection became a great concern for both exporters and foreign buyers," he said. "The task force is aimed at checking copycats at the fair where major products like garments and arts and crafts are easily copied."

Signs saying "no photographing" are displayed around the trade fair. Still, some shrewd exhibitors hid their hottest designs inside booths only to be seen by professional buyers.

"Our company has decided to apply for patent protection of one or two products this year although the application cost is really high for textile products which are usually labor-intensive," said Zheng Qiwei, with Shartex International Trading Co Ltd, a Shanghai garment exporter.

He said copycats are too common in the textile and garment industry as materials and designs are easily copied. Few firms in China will apply for a patent since fashions change quickly.

"We try to introduce new products in the shortest possible time to our clients as a way to head off copying," he said.

Some garment and textile exporters said it's not the time to apply for patents.

"Everyone knows it's important to protect our own intellectual property rights and not to copy others, but it's still not the time now," said He Jianzhen, an engineer with Nanjing Machinery, Metals, Mineral, Medicines & Health Products Import & Export Co Ltd.

His booth displays various dolls with different fashions.

"Sometimes the application is not worthwhile because we can't add the cost to our inexpensive products."

He added that, it's the low price that attracts foreign buyers to China. "Very often foreign buyers would take a sample with them and required Chinese manufacturers to copy it."

Many of the exhibitors indicated they are more concerned with intellectual property right protection, and some of them have already taken action.

Shanghai companies applied for patents on 20,202 items in the first 11 months of last year, up 26.4 percent from a year ago, according to the State Intellectual Property Office.