Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly met with Zhou Wenzhong, China's Ambassador to the United States. Donnelly requested the meeting with the ambassador as a follow up to their meeting this past May in which they discussed the problems businesses in the Second District, such as ABRO Industries, Inc., are having with Chinese companies stealing their intellectual property and patented product designs.
"This past May, I met with Ambassador Wenzhong to express my concerns about certain Chinese trade practices that harm Hoosier businesses and put consumers at risk because some imports from China are not safe," said Congressman Donnelly. "I asked for this follow-up meeting because recent developments suggest that these Chinese companies have yet to be held accountable for their actions."
Specifically, Donnelly focused on the recent developments in the ongoing intellectual property dispute between ABRO Industries, a South Bend-based company, and Chinese national Yuan Hongwei. Hongwei and his company Hunan Magic have been engaged in the illegal practice of selling, marketing, and distributing counterfeit products under the trademark name ABRO Industries, Inc.
Despite ABRO's exhaustive legal action and numerous legal victories in China, Hunan Magic has continued to manufacture and market counterfeit ABRO products, costing ABRO Industries tens of millions of dollars.
This past summer, Hongwei was arrested at London's Heathrow Airport and was charged with ten counts relating to the illegal use of counterfeit trademarks and conspiracy to commit theft, fraud, and deception. After spending several months in London free on bail, Hongwei fled the United Kingdom prior to his January 10th extradition hearing, reportedly using a passport which he failed to turn over to British authorities.
Upon his return to China, Hongwei was greeted as a hero and publicly expressed his appreciation to the Chinese government for its assistance in helping him flee the United Kingdom.
At his meeting with the Ambassador, Donnelly expressed his disappointment that Hongwei was able to sneak out of the United Kingdom before his extradition hearing, and once again avoid accountability. He also questioned the Chinese government's role in assisting Mr. Hongwei to flee the United Kingdom.
"If China and the United States are to have a productive future as trading partners, we must ensure that this relationship is built on mutual appreciation and respect for fair competition, entrepreneurial integrity, intellectual property, and the rule of law," said Donnelly. "As long as governments like China's fail to take action to stop individuals like Mr. Hongwei, I will continue to lead the fight in Congress against the theft of intellectual property."
Earlier this year, Donnelly introduced the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Act of 2007, which would strengthen IP enforcement domestically and internationally by creating one organized force to combat IP theft.
During the meeting, Ambassador Wenzhong agreed that Hongwei should stop selling ABRO products while a case against him is being tried in a Chinese court. He also promised to do his best to expedite Hongwei's pending appeal.
Donnelly also commented that he would continue to follow up with the ambassador until the Chinese can demonstrate meaningful progress in ending intellectual property theft and other illegal trade practices.