A new wave of copycat items is flooding China’s already-saturated market for counterfeits. But IP owners should worry less about the products, and more about the thinking behind them.
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By Phil Taylor.
Counterfeits in China are nothing new. But sophisticated
look-alike products produced by entrepreneurs and openly and
actively promoted as identical to – or better than
– the originals, are a more recent phenomenon. The
trend, and the philosophy behind it, is known as
山寨). It is rapidly becoming one of the
biggest threats to companies with legitimate rights to
The term comes originally from Cantonese slang: although the
literal meaning of the Chinese expression is mountain village,
in Guangdong province it has been used for many years to refer
to badly-equipped, small-town factories which sprung up in the
countryside after Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in the
late 1970s. In the past two years, the term has gone mainstream
and is now widely used across China as a term referring to
look-alikes, parodies, or knock-off products. One online
commentator has translated the expression as poor
man’s: the popular HiPhone,...
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