shanzhai iPhones and shanzhai Porsches
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Beijing’s top intellectual-property officials, meanwhile, seem to disagree over what even constitutes counterfeiting. Last year, a debate occurred between the heads of the State Intellectual Nike Air Max 2016 Feminino Property Office and the National Copyright Administration. The dispute revolved around shanzhai, a term that translates literally into “mountain fortress”; in contemporary usage, it connotes counterfeiting that you should take pride in. There are shanzhai iPhones and shanzhai Porsches. In February 2009, a reporter asked Tian Lipu, the commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office, whether shanzhai was something to be esteemed. “I am an intellectual-property-rights worker,” Tian curtly replied. “Using other people’s intellectual property without authorization is against the law.” Chinese culture, he added, was not about imitating Nike Air Max 90 Femme Blanche and plagiarizing others. But one month later, Liu Binjie, from the National Copyright Administration, drew a distinction between shanzhai and counterfeiting. “Shanzhai shows the cultural creativity Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Moire Femme of the common people,” Liu said. “It fits a market need, and people like it. We have to guide shanzhai culture and regulate it.” Soon after that, the mayor of Shenzhen, an industrial city near Hong Kong, reportedly urged local businessmen to ignore lofty debates about what is and isn’t defined as counterfeiting and to “not worry about the problem of fighting against plagiarism” and “just focus on doing business.” This contradictory political environment parallels — or perhaps fosters — a seemingly confused corporate response. There is no doubt that, as with Washington’s Athenaeum portrait, there are today a “good many” fake sneakers “knocking about” China, the United States, Italy Nike Free 5.0 Femme and the rest of the world. But none of the major footwear companies I contacted ventured an estimate of the scale of their counterfeiting problems. For Nike Free Run 2 Femme them, it’s something better not discussed. Peter Humphrey, the founder of a risk consultancy firm in Beijing called ChinaWhys, suggested this could be for one of two reasons: a wariness of “upsetting the Chinese authorities” or being “afraid to admit publicly too loud” that they have a counterfeiting problem. “Because when word gets around the consumer market,” Humphrey said, “then everyone starts wondering if their shoes are real or not.” How do counterfeit products translate to the bottom line of the legitimate company? Is each fake Nike or Adidas tennis shoe a lost sale? A senior employee at a major athletic-footwear company, speaking on condition of anonymity, reflected on counterfeiting as a simple fact of industrial life: Nike Air Max 2016 Womens “Does it cut into our business? Probably not. Is it frustrating? . . . Of course. But we put it as a Nike Air Max 90 Womens form of flattery, I guess.” It could also be a form of industrial training. In Putian, Lin told me of his real ambitions. “Making counterfeit shoes is a transitional choice,” he said. “We are developing our own brand now. In the longer term we want to make all our own brands, to make our own reputation.” Lin’s goals seemed in line with China’s de facto counterfeiting policy: to discourage it as a matter of law, but also to hope, as a matter of laissez-faire industrial-development policy, that the skills being acquired will eventually result in strong legitimate businesses. Putian’s counterfeit-sneaker industry operates in the open. Just type “Putian Nike” into any Internet search engine, and hundreds of results immediately turn up, directing you to Putian-based Web sites selling fake shoes. (Putian’s counterfeit-sneaker business Nike Air Huarache Dam Nike Roshe Run Feminino has become so renowned that, an online marketplace, offers a page warning buyers to exercise caution when dealing with suppliers from Putian.) “People who make the product and sell the product are no longer secret,” says Harley Lewin, an intellectual-property lawyer at the firm McCarter & English. “Where sellers in the past were unwilling to disclose who they were, these days it’s a piece of cake” to find them. Student Street in downtown Putian is a leafy, two-lane road lined with stores stocked with nothing but fake tennis shoes. I spent an afternoon browsing their wares. Like the products inside, the stores varied in quality. One resembled an Urban Outfitters — exposed brick and ductwork, sunlight beaming through a windowed facade, down-tempo electronica playing in the background — but the majority of the stores Nike Air Max 1 Donne appeared to value enterprise over aesthetics, with storefronts made of metal shutters left ajar to indicate they were open for business. I ducked into one and discovered a single room with two opposing walls Nike Air Max 90 Femme Noir covered in sneakers shrink-wrapped in clear plastic: Air Jordans, the latest LeBron James models, Vibram FiveFingers and more. It was like a Foot Locker for fakes. I pulled a pair of black Nike Frees from the rack, spun them in my hands, folded the sole back and forth, tugged at the stitching and sniffed the glue; every budding aficionado has their tasting routine. (I never could detect the smell of “bad” glue.) The Nike Air Max Thea Mujer shoes, which cost about $12 at the Student Street shops, seemed indistinguishable from the pair my wife bought for $85 in the United States. “I don’t know if I could tell a [fake] shoe right off the bat,” Ballman, the deputy director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, told me. If someone who specialized in intellectual-property-rights enforcement most of his career wasn’t sure he could tell the difference, how could I? (Ballman said the key was that fake shoes have a “heavy” glue smell.) As one Chinese salesman selling counterfeits in Beijing told me: “The shoes are original. It’s just the brands that are fake.”