Chinese IP Law Updates Company Update
March 9, 2020

Safeguard against COVID-19 – HFL in Action for 3M Crackdown on Fake Masks

The Spring Festival of 2020 will be remembered by history in a special way. Holidays that should have been embraced by fire and glow, smiles and laughter are lost, deserted all of a sudden by an epidemic of novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia (COVID-19). This battle without smoke has witnessed heroes one after another brave the epidemic in harm’s way, striking a chord with the whole nation.

However, black sheeps sneaked in the markets while the Chinese unified to fight against the virus. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, face masks, critical to protection, have become the most demanded product in the market. The immense and sudden surge in demand created a severe shortage. But the plight turned out to be a chance in the eyes of illegal opportunists. They dumped counterfeits on the market wantonly, at the cost of brand reputation and human safety.

3M Company, an expert in R&D of professional masks, is reputed and trusted for its various product lines in the market. As a matter of fact, 3M masks have laid a solid market foundation in China as effective protection against SARS widely endorsed by medical staff as early as 2003, and remain the preferred choice by professional and general users fighting against COVID-19 nowadays. The popularity is exactly the cause of the trouble. Reports of suspected 3M masks soon poured in, from consumers and official supervisors across the country.

Prompt action was required more than ever in light of the large audience and widespread infections. Any delay in investigation and crackdown would risk greater harm to people’s health and safety. As such, 3M Company’s outside counsel, HongFangLaw, keeps her commitment to the 3M Company’s brand protection, as always, and walks down the path against COVID-19 without hesitation regardless of challenges.

The campaign this time was particularly challenging – first, rampant counterfeiting activities across the country have led to an overwhelming number of cases; second, the large-scale inspection and raids have begun to erupt right in the middle of the Spring Festival holidays when our staff was off-site. Moreover, protective measures required for prevention and control have left HongFangLaw with limited options to allocate her human resources on the task.

But, in the dark and cold, lights shine better and love feels warmer. 20 colleagues of HongFangLaw unhesitatingly joined the team for 3M brand protection to contribute in the fight, even if it was the first day of the lunar New Year, a time for festive mood and relaxation, which was and is impressive and appreciated. As the ad hoc group set up, our colleagues in various roles have coordinated between the authorities and 3M Company in flexible ways. With their support, fragmented case information and materials from the authorities scattered nationwide were well organized, along with photos and samples of the suspected products delivered orderly to 3M Company for timely identification. Besides the liaison across the network, our staff was also tasked with facilitating the investigation and enforcement onsite. Giving up the holidays voluntarily and working overtime despite all difficulties, our colleagues went in harm’s way to help combat counterfeits, whether online or onsite, winning precious time in investigation and identification for effective case handling.

As of today, we have assisted over 180 offices against counterfeit masks and protective articles by follow-up product identification and case management. The millions of items concerned account for over RMB 10 million in value. We are still in action with this nationwide investigation and crackdown on counterfeit 3M masks. With the COVID-19 epidemic raging across the country, the significance of battle against counterfeits has gone far beyond brand protection. It also matters that every colleague with HongFangLaw has diligently worked for the protection of our country and people, building a safeguard against risks and harms to the public health and safety.

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