Silk Street Market is a "must-do" for most foreign tourists visiting Beijing for the first time. For over three decades, the bustling multi-floor market has built its reputation on the sale of cheap counterfeit brand products. Now, it's trying to shaking off that image and move into more up market territory.
Bustling aisles, foreign tourists bargaining with merchants, calculators in hand. This is Silk Street Market. 42-year-old Wu Hongcui sells Hello Kitty products. Everyday her store attracts hundreds of customers.
A foreign customer said, "I bought my baby a piano for my girl. And I bought her a nice jacket."
But 20 years ago, like other vendors in the market, she sold fake name brands.
Wu Hongcui, vendor, said, "I didn't know that it was illegal to sell counterfeit goods. Market regulators confiscated them three times. I lost thousands of yuan. I was devastated."
Wu decided to sell genuine goods when the new Silk Street Market building was opened in 2005. She succeeded in getting authorization from Hello Kitty. And now, there are no worries about confiscation.
Among the 800 vendors in Silk Street Market, Wu Hongcui is one benefitting from the crackdown on knock-off luxury goods. Many obtain authorization from well-recognized brands. Some even register their own brands.
Hu Wenli, General Manager of Beijing Silk Street Co., LTD, said, "We've been trying to eradicate products that infringe copyright in recent years. In order to encourage vendors to register their own brands, the Trademark Office can finish all the processing in one day, instead of the usual half year. "
Silk Street market has long been a popular tourist destination for its knock-off luxury products. Now little fake brand names can be found here, but foreigners still flock over for its traditional Chinese goods and brands. Reputation has been restored. And business is doing well. Most importantly, the market has shut out cases of intellectual property rights infringement.
China has had a modern Intellectual Property Rights system for just 20 years. Many problems still exist. Legal enforcement is not perfect. And copyright awareness is still not strong. But efforts to improve the situation are continuing.
Wu Xiaoming, official of State Intellectual Property Office, said, "China has made huge progress in protecting the intellectual property rights. First, the law system has been made one step forward. Some related laws are under their third or fourth amendment. Second, the law enforcement has reaped a good result. And we are also working hard on strengthening the awareness of protection intellectual property rights of Chinese people. "
Protecting intellectual property rights and copyright is one of the most difficult and complicated policies in an advanced economy. Though huge progress has been made, China still has a long way to go.