Sports

Chinese authorities crackdown on Olympic mascot piracy

Beijing, Feb 16 (EFE).- Chinese authorities launched a crackdown against the sale of pirated copies of Bing Dwen Dwen, the mascot of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, and even cakes shaped like the playful panda, whose products are very popular in the country.

A court in China issued the first sentence for intellectual property right (IPR) infringement on the image of the Olympic mascot this week.

Shuey Rhon Rhon, who sold pirated copies of Bing and the other – less famous – mascot of the upcoming Paralympic Games, was sentenced to a year in prison and fined 40,000 yuan (almost $6,300).

In recent days, almost 30 e-commerce platforms and social media platforms have removed more than 350,000 links and closed 3,363 accounts spreading content that infringed the image rights of the Games, according to data published by state media.

In addition, 30 websites hosted on servers outside of China and another 52 domestic websites and applications were shut down.

Not only those selling pirated copies of the mascot in the form of toys, plastic figures or stuffed toys are being persecuted but also those who sell cakes and pastries inspired by Bing Dwen Dwen without having a license for it.

Bakeries and cafes in the eastern province of Zhejiang and the northeastern city of Tianjin have been warned and in some cases fined for profits derived from infringing the image rights of the Olympic mascot.

The owners of the businesses claimed that they were unaware that they were not allowed to make cakes with this design but some will still have to face an economic penalty.

Obtaining a Bing Dwen Dwen product has become the latest obsession of Chinese consumers, who’re willing to stand in long lines despite the cold to lay their hands on one and even pay exorbitant prices for it in the second-hand market.

Sales of merchandise and dolls fashioned in the image of Chinese-American athlete and model Eileen Gu have also skyrocketed after she won a gold and a silver medal at the Games, prompting the Chinese public to dub her the “snow princess.”

The skier, who is competing for China, has became one of the most popular athletes at the Games.

The China National Intellectual Property Administration has announced that it will not only prosecute illegal trademark registration for Bing Dwen Dwen, but also for Eileen Gu, whose Chinese name is Gu Ailing.

So far, 429 trademark registration applications have been rejected and another 43 trademarks declared invalid, according to the agency’s data. EFE

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