Company Update
January 15, 2024

HFL Ranked 2022 Top 10 Copyright Protection Case

China has continuously enhanced its protection on intellectual property rights, including copyright, and in 2022 the National Copyright Administration of China (“NCAC”) has launched much stricter series of actions to tackle with the copyright piracy problem, involving the participation from all levels of copyright administrations. The campaign has achieved great success in stopping the copyright piracy. Recently the NCAC has elected Top 10 cases done in 2022, and we are honored that one of our copyright cases has been ranked as Top 10 by our successful effort to protect the stakeholder’s intellectual property.

Case Briefing

As one of the good reputing toy manufacturers in Japan, 株式会社バンダイ/Bandai Co. Ltd. (“Bandai”) owns the intellectual property rights, including both copyright and trademark rights, of the famous anime figures, such as Dragon balls, One-piece, and Demon Slayer. In early 2021, Bandai sensed the suspicious infringing activities organized and conducted by an infringer Mr. Wu and his gang by faking those anime toys from production, promotion, and distribution on e-commerce platforms, which brought serious damage to Bandai business and the IP rights. To take prompt action to stop the infringement, with the authorization of Bandai, HFL team started to work on the leads with pieces of information, connecting the dots to work out the action plan together with the police power in Shanghai City. The enforcement was taken successfully later and tore down the whole counterfeiting network run by Mr. Wu.

The case has been transferred to the public prosecutor’s office in Shanghai later when the evidence has been well preserved and collected, and the case was trialed by Shanghai Xuhui District Court. The defendant Mr. Wu has been convicted with the crime of copyright infringement with an imprisonment of 3 years and additional monetary fine of RMB 150,000.00 (USD 20,913.6), while the other assisting counterfeiters at the same gang have been convicted with same crime but lesser sentences and monetary penalties. There were over 50,000 pieces of fake Bandai anime toys being manufactured and confiscated, and the case value has reached RMB 5 million (USD 697,120).

Insights from NCAC

NCAC believes that this case is a typical case successfully fighting against the fake derivative products of the anime cartoon figures without the permission from the brand owner, and the whole has presented a good cooperation among all involved authorities from the police, the public prosecution office and the brand owner, raiding from the production source and distribution network. Significantly, it has shown the firm and positive attitude of Chinese government towards the protection of the intellectual property right owners.

Review by HFL

The case has delivered a trend of the great cooperation between the Japanese anime industry and the Chinese enforcement authority to fight against the copyright infringement and pirate problem, especially when the campaign started under the pandemic time in 2022. The Chinese authority decided firmly to protect the copyright of the IP owners, to enforce the actions against the copyright infringement, to enhance the faith of foreign business on IP protection in China, and to reaffirm the strong mind of Chinese government to establish a high-quality business environment for foreign companies.

Source: (Case No.3)

Lawyer dedicated to the case:Kevin Xu