By way of a press release published before Christmas, we've learned that Hasbro has won a criminal case in China against parties accused of counterfeiting Transformers products. This judgment is the outcome of actions initiated in 2017 by Hasbro, and reportedly thousands of pieces of the fake merchandise were destroyed. It had long been common perception that entities in China could basically act freely when it came to playing fast and loose with intellectual property, but this ruling would seem to indicate that it may not be so easy after all.
We don't have any information on who or what specifically were targeted in this case, whether it was one of the companies we call "third party" that engineer their own products based on Hasbro-owned likenesses, or perhaps a manufacturer outright bootlegging official products like the tremendous numbers of near-identical Masterpiece knockoffs out there. If more such cases are currently ongoing but not yet disclosed, it might mean that Hasbro is no longer so willing to turn a blind eye to how it's IP are being used without permission.
PAWTUCKET, R.I.—December 20, 2018-- The Chinese court in Dongguan city of Guangdong Province has issued a judgment favorable to Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) in a criminal case involving counterfeit TRANSFORMERS products.
Hasbro initiated an administrative raid action in 2017, which was transferred to the Public Security Bureau (PSB) due to the volume of counterfeit product and seriousness of the case. After a thorough investigation, three separate defendants, including two individuals and one corporate defendant, were found guilty of counterfeiting Hasbro’s trademarks and fined by the court, and the two individuals were sentenced to jail time. Thousands of counterfeit TRANSFORMERS products were confiscated and destroyed.
With strong support from various Chinese authorities, Hasbro has initiated many actions to enforce its intellectual property rights in China, and this is the latest of several criminal judgments involving counterfeit Hasbro products issued by Chinese courts in recent years.
“We take the protection of our intellectual property very seriously, and we will continue to investigate and pursue those who infringe on our rights,” said Tarrant Sibley, Hasbro’s Chief Legal Officer. “We are pleased with the ruling in this case, and will continue to vigorously enforce our intellectual property rights to combat the manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit products.”