The Hangzhou Internet Court, set up last year for the adjudication of e-commerce and Internet-related disputes, ruled on August 20 that two Chinese companies must pay compensation of 150,000 yuan ($22,016) to Entertainment One UK Ltd. and Astley Baker Davies Ltd. for producing and selling a toy kitchen set unlawfully using Peppa Pig's image.
The two British companies, which co-own the Peppa Pig animated TV series, have registered their copyright to the character in the United States and China.
Jufan Ltd. in Shantou, south China's Guangdong Province, produced the kitchen set, while Shantou-based Jiale Toys Industrial sold the kitchen set on Taobao, a business-to-consumer website owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba, without the licensing of the copyright owners. They were ordered to shoulder their legal responsibilities and pay for their infringement.
The ruling shows China's resolve to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) in accordance with the law and sends a signal to those who steal copyrights from abroad.
As a contracting party to a number of international conventions on IPR protection, China must obey the stipulation of the conventions. Otherwise, the country's international image will be damaged.
The open trial of the case in Hangzhou will serve to prevent other companies from committing similar offenses and improve China's international image as a committed protector of IPR.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article originally published in Legal Daily on August 25)