Recently, I've written about two cases of very blatant IP theft in China; the copy-pasting of an indie game onto Tencent platforms and the absurdly blatant theft of a game engine and its website. Both cases have since been resolved, but they cost the developers time and money in lost sales, not to mention the frustration of seeing their hard work copied and sold by strangers. So how can you prevent your tech product -- game, app, whatever -- from being copied and illegally sold in China? There are no sure bets, but here are two tips you'll want to write down. Get it localized and launch fast in China The best defense is a good offense. If you want to take the wind out of copycats' sails, get your product properly localized in Chinese, and launch the Chinese version the same time you launch the product everywhere else. If you can, spend some time and money on promotion in China so that people know your product is out there. This won't prevent copycats from trying to steal your product, but if you can make consumers aware there is an official Chinese version, you've already gone a long way towards removing the demand for a copycat product. And if you can offer after-sales services and support for Chinese customers, all the better; that's another reason they'll want to choose to pay for your official product and not go with a copycat. Note that when I say properly localized, that doesn't mean Google Translate . In fact, it doesn't mean just translation at all. Chinese users really do have different expectations, especially for certain kinds of apps, and a few little tweaks to your product may make it much more appealing in China. Proper localization is going to cost you money, but if you do it right, you should be able to make that (and more) back in China if your product is good and you let people know that it exists. The best way to do this is probably with a local team or team member since, generally, Chinese people are going to know their own culture, language, and market better than anyone else. Localization also might delay your launch, because you should launch the Chinese version at the same time as the product itself. That can be a pain, but think about it this way: most copycats are working to fill a hole in the marketplace; to meet a demand. When a Chinese copycat stole the Impact game engine, translated its site into Chinese, and began selling it, he was able to do that because (a) there was demand for that product in the market and (b) he was the only person providing a supply in the native language of China's 1.3-billion-plus consumers. If you've got an official Chinese version out there already, at least part of that demand is being met, and many copycats are going to see that there is easier money to be made elsewhere, and leave your product alone. If you get copied, make a stink! Of course, none of that can guarantee your product isn't going to get copied anyway, and if you're successful enough, it probably will. Depending on the size of your company, you may have legal options, but startups and smaller enterprises probably can't afford the time or money a legal battle in China would require, and depending on the courts isn't ever a safe bet anyway. The cheaper way to deal with it -- please excuse the ways in which this is going to sound self-promotional and braggy -- is to go to the media . There's no way to be sure, but I'm guessing it's not a coincidence that both cases of copycatting I mentioned above were resolved within a week after we started getting in touch with the big companies involved and asking questions. Tencent or Softlayer may not have a problem with ignoring a lone voice, but most big companies will be hesitant to ignore the press. This is apparently true even of a smaller outlet like Tech in Asia because those companies know that if a story gets big enough, it will be picked up by bigger media outlets, too. If it's one dissatisfied developer against the company, the company doesn't have much incentive to change anything (especially if it's making money off copycat product). But if the company starts looking bad in the press, that can change the equation. It's not a silver bullet, of course, but it's a good place to start if your attempts at approaching the company and asking them to take the stolen product down go ignored. It's also worth noting that you'll have more luck if you and whatever media is interested in your story go after the bigger platforms involved in the case. A small Chinese copycat group can stay relatively anonymous and weather any kind of media firestorm or legal challenge by simply disappearing. But Tencent can't do that, and Tencent doesn't have as much incentive to care about the copied game one way or the other because Tencent is making buckets of money from thousands of other games already. Go after the platforms that are facilitating the distribution of the illegally-copied product, and you're much more likely to get a response. Getting copied is inevitable, beat them with service At a certain point, being copied in China is just a fact of life. While the vast majority of the Chinese tech market is creative and innovative and has moved beyond simply copying other people's products, there are always going to be a few bad eggs, and if your product is good enough (and high profile enough), you're going to deal with them. Even Apple has to deal with them (look at all the cheap copycat iPhones that spring up whenever a new iPhone model is announced), and you're never going to have the legal budget or media influence of Apple. But Apple also sells a boatload of official products in China because it markets here, and it offers properly localized software, support, and after-sales services. The more you can offer your legitimate customers in China, the less the copycat products are going to matter to Chinese consumers or to your bottom line. Service is your friend here; you developed the software, you issue the updates, you know it better than anyone else. Chinese copycats can copy your code, but they won't be able to match your service, so if prevention and media intervention have failed (and legal battles aren't an option) you can always try to beat copycats with your service.
The Philippines vowed Thursday to fight China "to the last man standing", as a Chinese warship patrolled around a remote reef occupied by a handful of Filipino marines in disputed waters.