The Gansu Provincial Museum will take legal action against any party that illegally infringes upon the intellectual property rights of one of its most famous products in the form of selling counterfeits, the museum said on Friday.
A green stuffed horse that resembles the Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow bronze sculpture at the museum in Lanzhou, the provincial capital, has become a recent buzzword among fans since its debut on June 14, mostly due to its cute design.
The stuffed toy is currently sold out both online and offline, including on the museum's official Tmall store online and in its souvenir shop. The museum is working to quickly replenish the stock, it said in a statement.
Upon reports of fakes being sold on the market, the museum emphasized that it owns the exclusive copyright for the toy and hasn't authorized any third party for its production and sale.
The museum also reminded customers to buy authentic products only from official vendors, and said it would take legal action against counterfeiters and merchants that sell fakes.
Li Shunde, a retired researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Law, said if the museum's souvenir is an original design based on its cultural relics, then the art, as well as the toy, are protected by copyright law.
"It is legitimate for the museum to defend its rights," said Li, who is also an IPR expert.
Like the stuffed horse, the copyrights of cultural and creative products such as products depicting Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon, the mascots of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, are protected by laws and regulations.
There are two main ways original creators can protect the copyrights of these cultural products, Li said.
"They can register the copyrights at the Copyright Protection Center of China or their local copyright management bureaus, which operate under the protection of the Copyright Law," he explained. "They can also apply to the National Intellectual Property Administration for protection of design rights."
In addition, legal protection can be claimed in accordance with the Anti-unfair Competition Law.
"Administrative remedies can be sought through market supervision departments, or a lawsuit can be filed in a people's court," he said, adding that infringement warnings can be issued directly to merchants who counterfeit goods.
Creative products like Bing Dwen Dwen are authorized by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and are simultaneously safeguarded by the Regulations on the Protection of Olympic Symbols.
Copyrights of Bing Dwen Dwen and other Olympic-related products enjoy stronger protection thanks to the attention given to the Games, education on IPR and stricter law enforcement before and after the events, Li said.
As people in Beijing scrambled in March to buy popular Bing Dwen Dwen products, which quickly sold out, police in the capital's subcenter Tongzhou seized more than 360 counterfeits.
Two suspects involved in the sales were identified, and one was transferred to the district's market supervision department to face administrative punishment.
In another case, more than 58,000 counterfeit Bing Dwen Dwen pendants were seized by police in Guangdong province, leading to the arrests of eight people.