Many companies prefer to use maps to mark business scope, by which they could introduce their scale or business scope. Article 9 of the “Advertising Law” stipulates that advertisements shall not, …… (4) harm the dignity or interests of the State and divulge State secrets; ……” Since 2017, administrative penalty cases due to the improper use of maps are very common. In practice, although many companies hope to avoid such penalty, many of them do not have a comprehensive understanding of how to avoid such risk.
After analyzed the previous administrative penalty cases, in order to avoid such risk, it is recommended to pay attention to the following aspects during daily operation.
First, regarding the form of advertising, many people held the old concept of advertising, which are the advertisements made or published by advertising companies, or companies’ brochures. In fact, Article 2 of the “Advertising Law” stipulates that this Law shall apply to commercial advertising activities in the People’s Republic of China by sellers of goods or service providers to promote their goods or services directly or indirectly through a certain medium and form. Therefore, advertising refers to commercial advertising activities in the People’s Republic of China by sellers of goods or service providers to promote their goods or services directly or indirectly through a certain medium and form, which means the content published through a company’s official website, WeChat official account and other similar channels shall be deemed as an advertising. For example, in the Hang Xi Shi Jian Chu Fa (2021) No.101 administrative penalty case, Jiangnan Clothing and Accessories Co., Ltd. was fined CNY 800,000 for using an incomplete map in the company introduction published on its official website.
Second, regarding the map review key points, which shall include several levels.
Level one is to use the correct map. The easiest way is to download national maps, world maps, etc. from the “Standard Map Service” (website: http://bzdt.ch.mnr.gov.cn/index.html) in charged by the Map Review Center of the Ministry of Natural Resources, and download the map of each province and city from the official website of the natural resource department of each province and city.
Level two is to review the using methods of a correct map, including: (1) the “Review Serial No.” shall be marked on the map. Article 27 of the “Regulations on the Administration of Map Review” clearly stipulates that for maps that have been reviewed and approved, the applicant shall prominently mark the map review serial number at the appropriate position of the map or the product with the map graphics attached. (2) to use the correct map in a proper way, which means the map should not be altered without authorization, such as adding, deleting, modifying color blocks, plots or characters; the map should not be enlarged or reduced without the required standard; and the map should not be covered partly by other pictures, by which the map is incomplete. (3) to review the above 2 points every time when using a map. In practice, we have found that many companies would regularly update promotional materials, such as company brochures or product introductions, and they often ignore the review requirements when reprinting. However, if you have not been penalized in the past does not mean that you have used the correct map and using methods. Potential problems are like bombs, which may be exploded at any time.
Such correct maps got roasted for losing creativity, but there is a possible solution, that is, the “DIY Mapping” item on the “Standard Map Service” website, by which companies could design maps by themselves. Although such DIY maps should meet relevant standards and requirements of the review, the final result may not fully achieve the original creative effect, but it can keep the best balance between review requirements and innovation.