Before being published on any platform that distributes apps in China, every app must go through a thorough review process. According to the most recent regulations, it is also the responsibility of app-distribution platforms to ensure that apps requesting distribution on their platforms are compliant with Chinese laws and do not infringe on the intellectual property of other software developers.
So why are there still some pirated versions of international apps on the major Chinese Android app stores?
App distribution platforms rely on a document called the Software Copyright Certificate (SCC) to differentiate original apps from pirated, unauthorized copies. The Software Copyright Certificate is a legal document registered with the Chinese Copyright Administration Bureau, proving ownership and copyright of the app.
Before there were clear regulations to govern the mobile app market, there were hackers who scraped data from Google Play Store apps and then published them as originals on Chinese Android app stores for profit. Some pirated copies were approved and published in China on stores that didn’t yet require an SCC and foreign developers didn’t know how to check whether their apps had been copied.
Because China has its own system for managing software copyrights rather than using the international WIPO database, some pirated apps may be able to register for an SCC in China and be considered the original app if the person who copied it can provide a sample of the source code, resulting in the original app struggling to prove that they are the rightful owner when they enter the Chinese market.
Whether you intend to take your app to the Chinese market or not, if you discover pirated copies of your app and want to prevent others from profiting from it, the only option is to register an SCC to reclaim the unauthorized copies of your app on the applicable distribution platforms.
To apply for an SCC in China you only need to provide the following materials:
You can expect to receive your SCC in 1 to 3 months after submitting the required documents, depending on whether you apply with a Chinese entity and whether you have further plans for distribution in China.
If you have additional questions specific to your situation, AppInChina can assist. We’ve been operating in the Chinese market since 2013 with over 300 international software and provide a wide range of services including localization, distribution, user acquisition and monetization. Contact us today and tell us more about your app so that we can assist you in protecting your intellectual property and developing and executing a go-to-market strategy in China.