Counterfeit products have a negative impact on the economy, mislead consumers and, in the case of electrical products, can cause harm to users or damage to property. We take counterfeiting of our products seriously and pursue every means possible to stop this illegal activity while making the industry and public more aware of this critical safety concern.
What is a counterfeit?A counterfeit is a result of illegal reproduction or imitation that occurs when an Intellectual Property Right (IPR) is infringed, including:
- A registered trademark or trade name
- And/or an unregistered proprietary right for the "trade dress" or "get-up" or designation of a product
- And/or a patent, utility model and/or design right/design patent
- And/or a copyright
- Registered trademark or trade name: the copy products bear a mark or other designation which is identical or confusingly similar to that of a product with a registered trade mark or trade name.
- Unregistered "trade dress" / "get-up" / designation: these terms designate the copy products which have a form and visual appearance, or bear a designation which are recognized by the public as distinctive and hinting to a specific producer. The public may therefore be led to the erroneous belief that the copy products come from the same source as the original products.
- Patent, utility model, design right: here one or more parts of the original product are protected by valid patents and/or utility models and/or design rights (in the U.S. called design patents), and these protected parts show up in the copy product.
- Copyright: the copy product is a text (brochure, book, pamphlet, manual etc.) or picture or film or sound or computer software or technical document and drawing, which is basically identical with the original product.
What are clones?
The following terms do not define a counterfeit product, but may define a product that could be of concern for similar reasons:
- Clone – a product that is a close copy of a product, but is not represented as a product manufactured by the original manufacturer. These products bear the name or trademark or the original manufacturer, but are typically represented as “equivalent” to the original products. These products may be infringing on Schneider Electric intellectual property
- Remanufactured/Reconditioned/Refurbished – a product that originated as a legitimate product, but has since been altered or remanufactured by another entity. These products may be represented to customers as original products and they may retain the original label/trademark giving the customer the impression that they are unmodified originals. There are instances where remanufacturers have counterfeited labeling to make the product appear as new.
Shadow Companies in Hong Kong
There have been 189 cases of companies incorporated in Hong Kong who illegally used the registered Schneider Electric trademark (in Chinese characters) in their names, to mislead customers and authorities.
Those so-called “shadow companies” largely impact the business of Schneider Electric China,
by requesting Chinese factories to manufacture infringing products and distributing, exporting such infringing products. While the number of such companies was growing, the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance came into effect in December 2010. Under this Ordinance, the Companies Registry can direct a change of company name, based on a Court Order. This current law enables efficient actions against shadow companies.
Schneider Electric China is working hard solve the issue of shadow companies by taking the following steps:
Schneider Electric is committed to protecting its intellectual property rights – and we are taking actions against shadow companies, to bring their illegal practices to a stop.
- Sending warning letters, requesting shadow companies to change their names
- Striking off those shadow companies which failed to file annual return for three consecutive years
- Taking legal action against companies which do not cooperate by changing their names
- Filling complaints with the Hong Kong Companies Registry to issue formal directions