The International Herald Tribune has a fascinating tale of piracy today, in which the Japanese company NEC was targeted by Chinese counterfeiters. They didn't just make knock-off products, but instead stole the NEC brand, then essentially set up their own little NEC, coordinating manufacturing in 50 factories, organizing distribution and centrally collecting profits. The pirates even went so far as to develop their own line of products, which NEC says were of generally good quality, and carried NEC business cards and commissioned research in the company's name. Cases like this highlight the value of trademark law -- when it's properly applied, and not used as a tool to squash competition. Trademarks are intended specifically to address cases like this, where customers, retailers and even factory owners were tricked into thinking they were dealing with the real NEC, not to allow entities to completely prevent any mention of themselves that they may not like.
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