The Customs and Excise Department, in cooperation with the University of Hong Kong, is working on a new computer system that will be able to detect counterfeit goods being sold online.
The new tool could be unveiled as soon as the first half of next year, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday. The government has invested an initial HK$1 million in the project.
The need to develop such a system has become urgent as the number of cases involving the sale of counterfeit products over the internet has increased 10 percent year on year in the first 11 months, the newspaper said.
Of these cases, those involving social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, surged 240 percent.
Some of the counterfeit goods were being sourced from Alibaba’s online shopping platform taobao.com, the report said.
During the January-November period, customs agents arrested 707 people involving 765 cases, up 12 percent from 681 cases a year ago.
The value of good seized, including fake Rolex watches, Chanel handbags, Michael Jordan basketball shoes and even condoms, was estimated at HK$67 million, down from HK$145 million for the entire 2013.
Wong Yim-pui, head of the department’s Intellectual Property Investigation (Operations), said most of those arrested were individuals and not known to be connected with organized criminal groups. Some were students who were trying to make some money on the side.
The customs department is working with courier companies, which alert the police if they spot shipments of counterfeit goods.
Anyone convicted of possessing or selling counterfeit goods could face imprisonment of up to five years and fine of HK$500,000, the report said.
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