Taking criminal action against infringers can be both satisfying and efficient. Given that imprisonment and fines can be imposed by the Public Security Bureau (PSB), criminal enforcement can be quite the deterrent. Furthermore, the PSB has a broad powers, allowing them to find their way into locations to uncover infringing activities where normal administrative officers may not be able to access.


Under the Criminal Law of China, the penalty for using an identical trademark on identical goods without permission from the registered trademark owner includes a fine and/or imprisonment for up to three years. In extreme cases, imprisonment can even be extended to up to seven years. The PSB will also seal and indefinitely close the locations in which the infringing activity occurred, and confiscate all infringing/counterfeit products. Such penalties are commonly implemented by the PSB.

Criminal Status

Criminal action cannot be taken against all infringers, rather circumstances must be serious enough to rise to the level of criminal infringement and include:

(1)  the turnover from the illegal conduct is at least RMB 50,000, or the illegal profits are at least RMB 30,000;

(2)  the infringer has engaged in counterfeiting two or more registered marks, with the turnover from the illegal operations amounts to at least RMB 30,000, or the amount of illegal profit gained is at least RMB 20,000; or

(3)  other circumstances where the consequences would be considered serious.

Filing Action

To initiate a criminal action, a complaint must be submitted to the local PSB. Then, the PSB officers will conduct an investigation and, where a criminal level of infringement is uncovered, the infringer may be arrested by the PSB and then will be prosecuted before the criminal court. 

In sum, where your investigations have uncovered a large amount of infringing goods or amount to a high value, considering utilizing criminal action to quickly take

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.