The "Fast Action Scheme" (the Scheme) is a scheme launched by the Customs and Excise Department with an aim to combat intellectual property rights infringement activities at large-scale exhibitions. Under the Scheme, enterprises holding short-term exhibitions may provide information on brands and copyrights of their products on display to industry organizations of the Scheme in advance for record-keeping. Since October 2006, Customs has joined with the "Hong Kong Brands Protection Alliance" ("HKBPA") to launch the Scheme during exhibitions. Once infringing activities have been detected in the exhibitions, "HKBPA" will send relevant information retrieved from its database to the Customs for verification and follow-up actions. Such notification mechanism is different from the Customs normal reporting for record procedure. When brand or copyright holders formally initiate a report, the Customs can expedite the handling process so as to give a quicker response and take faster enforcement actions against infringing activities, as well as further enhancing the protection of intellectual property rights.
Today, over 80 international trade fairs are held in Hong Kong each year, including Hong Kong Toys Fair, Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair, Hong Kong International Jewellery Show, etc. Following the completion of the extension works of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this year, it is believed that an increasing number of international trade fairs will be held in Hong Kong in years to come.
In general, when the Customs processes reports of infringement or counterfeiting activities, it usually takes one to two weeks' time to identify the brand or copyright owners of the suspected infringed products before actions can be taken on new products. But since the exhibitions usually last for only a few days and new products will be on display, the Customs is currently pressed for time to process such cases.
To prevent intellectual property rights infringement activities at large-scale exhibitions and to further strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights, the Customs has stepped up liaison with the commercial brand enterprises and launched the "Fast Action Scheme".
Details of the Scheme
The launching of the Scheme is to effectively prevent any intellectual property rights infringement activities at large-scale exhibitions as well as to enhance the efficiency of enforcement actions. The details of the Scheme are as follows:
- The HKBPA set up a committee whose specialized task is to establish a comprehensive database that conforms to the requirements of the Customs for keeping the information on members' brands and copyrights;
- The Customs provides guidelines and assistance so that the information kept in the database conforms to the Customs' requirements for taking actions;
- In case of detecting any infringement activities during exhibitions, the committee will transfer the relevant data from the database to the Customs for verification;
- Once the Customs receives reports from copyright or trademark owners, they can promptly follow up and take actions based on the verified information on brands and copyrights.
The Scheme is expected to bring about the following benefits:
- The Customs and the business sector can handle the intellectual property rights infringement activities more effectively since they do not need to spend plenty of time to verify the information on brands or copyrights during the exhibition period which lasts only for few days;
- Since the industry is more familiar with their own brands and the copyrights, as well as the changes in the business environment, they can manage the relevant database more flexibly and set an appropriate priority to protect the latest merchandise and copyrights so as to provide more effective protection to innovative products; and
- As the information on brands and copyrights kept in the database is managed by the business sector, the Customs only provides advice to the committee for the improvement of the database. Therefore the implementation of the Scheme does not require the Customs to utilize large amount of additional resources.