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How can I protect my IPR when selling on Chinese e-commerce platforms?

* This FAQ was provided by the China IP SME Helpdesk, an EU-funded project which provides free technical assistance to EU SMEs on IPR-related issues in China:

China’s specific IPR regulations related to the internet stipulate that if the IP-protected material is uploaded without the right holder’s consent, the right holder may request in writing that the internet service provider (ISP) removes the infringing work, or removes the relevant website from the ISP’s network and disables access to the copyrighted material. This kind of written warning is known as a ‘take-down notice’.

The general rule is that if the ISP removes the infringing content following a ‘take-down notice’, it will not be held liable for any further compensation. If, however, the ISP knew or should have known about the infringement, then it will be held liable jointly with the person who uploaded the infringing content. In order to avoid liability, Chinese ISPs have developed systems to aid take-down notices.

However, the prerequisite for issuing a take-down notice is that the right holder has registered his/her IPR in mainland China. Registration in your home country is not usually sufficient (although Alibaba does accept IP registered outside of China). For a successful takedown action, you will have to provide the ISP with the registration documents of your Chinese trademark, patents or copyright.

For further information on notice and take-down procedures, consult the China IP SME Helpdesk’s “How to Remove Counterfeit Goods from E-commerce Websites in China” guide – which also includes specific case studies for Alibaba and Taobao platforms: