Increasing reports and complaints from music stores and musicians about the explosion of counterfeit guitars spreading like plague, four of the top known names in the musical instrument business, Ibanez, Gretsch, Fender and Paul Reed Smith (PRS), teamed up in March 2008 to develop the Electric Guitar Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (EGACC) to petition government authorities for enforcing their intellectual property laws against unauthorized counterfeiting.
Sources tell us that complaints were pursued with the Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Beijing, China concerning the activities of two Chinese companies operating as paylessguitar.com.cn and musoland.com.cn. The two companies were believed to be in violation for distributing and sales of counterfeit guitars through several websites targeting overseas consumers. The four members of the EGACC had all received several complaints about the sites from both consumers and musical instrument retail stores, many of who were on the receiving end of acquiring instruments that turned out to be illegal counterfeits.
The four guitar manufacturers of the EGACC are also collectively working with the international intellectual-property and antitrust law firm, Baker and McKenzie. Baker and McKenzie petitioned the Chinese enforcement authorities for law enforcement assistance. Following numerous months of intensive investigations, the Xuanwu District PSB in Beijing, initiated simultaneous raids on November 26, 2008, against the retail operations and warhouse of both Paylessguitar and Musoland in Beijing.
During this intensive operation, the PSB seized over 1,200 counterfeit guitars and other musical instruments not only counterfeiting all four EGACC group member brands but also those of several other renowned electric guitar manufacturers. Sources tell us that a number of individuals including the owners of these businesses were detained by the PSB during the raids. The EGACC is collaborating with the PSB and prosecutors in their follow-up investigations and prosecution. Should the prosecution prevail, those convicted could face extensive fines and jail time.
The spokesperson for Baker & McKenzie, stated: “This is just the first of actions that will send a strong signal to manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and web sellers – that dealing in counterfeit guitars and counterfeit guitar products will simply not be tolerated by government authorities or the brand owners. Strong action will be taken to protect the group members’ lawful rights and the rights and interests of consumers of all of the affected brands. The EGACC group members are grateful for the cooperation of the PSB, and of other PRC enforcement authorities, including the Xuanwu Administration for Industry & Commerce, for pursuing these law enforcement actions. The EGACC group members look forward to working closely with these and other government enforcement authorities on this and future actions in the PRC and elsewhere.”