China Calls for Intensified Foreign-Related and Internet IPR Protection

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Nov. 25 – China has intensified its emphasis on intellectual property right (IPR) protection recently, especially when it comes to foreign-related and internet issues. It seems November’s theme has been the emphasis on China’s IPR enforcement, following China’s fourth “Patent Week” and the release of the “National Patent Business Development Strategy (2011-2020).”

Circular No.169 (2010), published on the central government’s website on November 23, in particular focuses on the spirit of national IPR protection and enforcement. The circular specifically calls for more foreign-related IPR protection and vows to strengthen the penalty on export and import enterprises that violate IPR. It also says that the government will look for more international cooperation on IPR issues to establish an effective system of warning, emergency responding, overseas IPR defense and dispute solving for companies that involve themselves in overseas investment and international trade industry.

The notice also calls attention to IPR protection in the IT industry – showing a strong determination to crack down on the growing availability of pirated movies and television shows online. In the circular, the government devotes an entire section urging the use of legitimate computer software in all government bodies. It says the government plans to include legitimate computer software purchases into the state fiscal budget in the future.

While China is growing into one of the major FDI destinations with its massive market resources and low-cost labor forces, the prevalence of piracy is also turning into a major concern for foreign investors. Meanwhile, China realizes its developing domestic industries will eventually require more IPR protection as their technologies advance.

A report on China’s IPR protection issued by the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of PRC in 2009 illustrates China’s improving IPR-related legislation and international cooperation. In 2009 alone, China dealt with six laws relevant to IP, amending three, releasing two and passing one. The laws covered the regulations on patent, trademark, copyright and IPR issues during import and export and other transactions. The report also lists a series of global collaborations China initiated or participated in last year. It highlights China’s memorandum of understanding with ASEAN countries on IPR issues, multilateral or bilateral cooperation programs with the United States, Japan and EU countries over trademark issues, and a significant amount of customs collaboration programs with those countries.

Benot Battistelli, president of the European Patent Office (EPO) said at an event in Shanghai’s 2010 Expo that China has now become one of the world’s most important countries in patent applications among non-EPO entities and “cooperation between the EPO and SIPO has been pivotal in the creation of a modern system of intellectual property rights protection in China.”

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