Acushnet, the world’s biggest golf equipment company, whose brands include Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra, along with other well known golf brands who form the U.S. Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group, have announced that the Chinese government has launched a major new offensive against manufacturers and retailers of counterfeit golf equipment in China. The offensive comes after recent meetings between Mr. Chris Israel (international intellectual property rights enforcement coordinator) and vice-premier Wu Yi, where the widespread problem concerning counterfeiting of golf equipment was addressed. As part of its obligations as a World Trade Organization member and other commitments it has made to control piracy of goods, the Chinese government promised that enforcement action would be taken.
Shortly after the meetings, Chinese authorities began a campaign of factory and retail raids stretching from Beijing in the north to Shenzhen in the south. The most impressive and significant of the raids were against counterfeit golf retailers in the Beijing Silk Market – a well known counterfeit haven in Beijing. Some 100 government and police officers descended upon the Market and shut down all counterfeit golf retail operations. In quick succession, raids were carried out in Beijing, Xiamen, Quanzhou, Dongguan, Chang‘an, Zhongshan, and Shenzhen. During the latest operation, illegal manufacturing equipment and thousands of counterfeit golf products ranging from clubs, bags, shoes, garments and balls were seized. It is estimated that the recent seizures are worth in excess of US$5 million.
Loo Shih Yann, a principal with the international law firm of Baker and McKenzie, who is coordinating efforts on behalf of the US Golf Manufacturers Group in China calls this “one of the most intense enforcement efforts that he has seen on behalf of any industry by the Chinese government.”
However, the efforts of the Chinese government still lack bite because no infringers were arrested during the massive campaign. Mr. Loo said that more criminal penalties and jail sentences need to be meted out to have a serious deterrent effect. Intelligence reports suggest that counterfeiters are now moving retail operations out of city centres and manufacturing operations are going deeper underground to avoid detection.
The Chinese government has promised additional crackdowns and the U.S. Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group welcomes these efforts to sustain the momentum in enforcing the laws against golf equipment counterfeiters, and will continue to cooperate closely with Chinese enforcement authorities.
This latest initiative in China is the latest in a long line of recent clampdowns in the US,UK and Far East involving Acushnet brands. This continued action from Acushnet, other leading golf manufacturers and the authorities highlights their growing intolerance with counterfeiters regardless of the size, type or location of operation.