A coalition of U.S. equipment makers battling illegal goods scored a victory when a Chinese court sentenced a counterfeiter to a four-year prison term – reportedly the stiffest penalty yet issued in that country for the crime.
The production of counterfeit golf clubs and products is prevalent in China, and the U.S. Golf Manufacturers’ Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group has been working to halt such activity since its formation in 2004.
The group – which includes Callaway and Odyssey; TaylorMade-Adidas Golf and Ashworth; Ping; Cleveland, Srixon and Never Compromise; and Acushnet Co. – has worked with international law enforcement and government agencies to conduct raids and investigations. Last year, the group seized more than 80,000 counterfeit products.
The conviction of Zeng Hong, announced Aug. 23 by the group, underscores growing awareness by Chinese government officials of the counterfeiting problem. The group hopes Hong’s unprecedented sentence will send a message to those who infringe upon its members’ trademarks.
“We hope this case will serve as a significant deterrent for other counterfeiters in the area as it shows counterfeiting is a serious offense,” said Rawleigh Grove, Ping’s vice president and general counsel.
Hong was arrested on Sept. 7, 2011, when officials simultaneously raided five facilities, including the factory and warehouse for Simple Golf – a retail business owned by Hong. An investigation revealed that Hong’s operation was active in manufacturing, processing and distributing counterfeit golf products through Simple Golf and an e-commerce operation.