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Abstract

Multinational corporations often struggle to protect their intellectual property rights in China. The Walt Disney Company, which has a long relationship with China, knows this all too well. In fact, counterfeit Mickey Mouse ears—along with numerous other Disney character goods—are now sold in plain sight at the new Shanghai Disneyland Resort. In an attempt to combat counterfeiting, companies such as Disney rely on a traditional method of enforcement of intellectual property rights: government campaigns. Campaigns are short periods of time during which multiple raids and government enforcement actions occur to crack down on counterfeiting. The irony of Disney’s situation is that less than a year before the Shanghai Disneyland Resort opened Disney was part of a high-profile campaign to protect its trademarks and prevent counterfeiting at the new park. However, the results of the Disney campaign are not surprising. Campaigns as practiced are generally ineffective, with counterfeit goods manufacturers and sellers returning to their businesses within days. Herein lies the issue: While campaigns are marked with a high volume of enforcement, in the long-term they are ineffective for combating intellectual property rights infringement. This Note uses Disney as a case study to illustrate the present usage of campaigns as an attempt to alleviate the infringement, despite their long-term ineffectiveness. Though rarely used, there are new opportunities for multinational corporations to incorporate civil litigation into their anti-counterfeiting strategy as a means to move away from depending heavily on campaigns and provide long-term change. Additionally, a comparison to the United States version of a campaign provides a new model for multinational corporations which can be used to push for more effective practices that not only benefit them, but also China. It is time for a new strategy to combat infringement. By changing course, multinational corporations and the government can strengthen intellectual property rights in China.

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