China’s State Intellectual Property Office has recently announced, in a joint declaration with three other ministerial bodies, the launch of its annual online piracy crackdown campaign called the “Red Shield Net Sword Campaign” (红盾网剑专项行动). This year’s crackdown campaign promises to take a heavy hand against the unauthorized online distribution of films, TV programs and other copyrighted content. The campaign will last from July through November 2017. IP owners who time their enforcement efforts with the campaign may see better results, and more willingness to prosecute online copyright infringements.

According to the Notice, this year’s campaign will focus on the following infringement activities in China:

  • the unauthorized distribution of film & TV programs through cloud-services, deep-link technology and Internet programs and applications;
  • the illegal distribution of literary works, films and music via illegal set-top boxes, websites, APP stores, mobile apps and WeChat public accounts;
  • the sales and piracy of literary works, films and music through e-commerce platforms, whereby the authorities will closely scrutinize the duty of cooperation of the platforms in fighting such piracy.

During the campaign (and hopefully continuing thereafter), IP owners should benefit from swifter and more effective enforcement of IP rights via administrative complaints. They may also expect a higher level of deterrence as the administrative authorities will publish their punishment decisions as well as the results of the campaign. That said, while the campaign is a welcoming initiative, it is by no means a panacea to online infringement activities. IP owners must continue to be proactive and dedicate resources to enforcing their IP rights on China’s booming e-commerce platforms through multiple approaches. Nevertheless, the campaign offers an opportunity for IP owners to work closely with the administrative authorities and the online-sales-platform operators toward more efficient and effective online enforcement of their IP rights.