According to FootwearNews.com, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has named China as the top international offender of intellectual property theft and counterfeits. The findings were released to the public in the annual Special 301 report, which outlines current global threats to intellectual property.
The report deemed China, India, and Russia “top-watch” nations. More notably, Venezuela was named as a “priority watch” nation, in addition to Algeria, Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Kuwait, Thailand, and Ukraine.
While U.S. officials consider each of these countries to be threats, the most rampant offender of these laws is unquestionably China. The report claims that approximately 52% of all counterfeit products seized at U.S. ports in 2015 came directly from China.
Most of these seized items were shoes and other assorted footwear products. Since most footwear companies outsource manufacturing duties to China, they often steal design ideas and use them to create their own cheaper alternatives.
It typically takes about 10 to 14 months to get a U.S. federally registered trademark, but these timelines are shorter in many other nations. Therefore, it’s easy for a country like China or Venezuela to catch wind of an American idea and use it to their own benefit.
The American Apparel and Footwear Association has joined forces with the USTR to combat the growing trend of intellectual property theft. Its president and CEO, Rick Helfenbein, believes that the USTR report plays a crucial role in preserving the integrity of his industry.
“Counterfeit goods cost our industry billions of dollars every year,” said Helfenbein. “We welcome the U.S. Trade Representative’s release of its Special 301 report today. This annual report spells out the progress or lack of progress in the fight against counterfeits, and other forms of intellectual property theft.”
As Complex reported last year, legendary NBA player/shoe mogul Michael Jordan recently fell victim to intellectual property theft overseas. Jordan lost his case against Qiodan, a Chinese brand that he accused of stealing his shoes’ style and infamous logo.
“The average consumer assumes that is Michael Jordan’s own sportswear brand. Many of the shoes look like Nike Air Jordans, down to the logo,” said Paul Haswell, one of Jordan’s lawyers.
Shoe companies around the world are now becoming more vigilant about intellectual property theft, and the Special 301 report should help to curb this behavior even further.