The government will soon publish the guidelines on intellectual property rights (IPR) protection after the first national strategic plan on IPR is formulated later this month.
The move will be a strategic transition in China's almost 30 years of IP system building history, Yin Xintian, spokesman for the State Intellectual Property Office and director-general of its legal affairs department, said yesterday.
Yin's comments come on the eve of the outreach session of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in Germany. The G8 (the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia) has invited five developing countries (China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa), or the "outreach five" to the summit, where IPR is expected to be one of issues to be discussed.
The strategic plan, overseen by Vice-Premier Wu Yi, has been in the pipeline for more than two years. Thirty-eight ministries and agencies are also involved in its formulation.
With the release of the strategic plan, China's IPR work will change from a passive protection-focused approach to a comprehensive innovative one.
"China has regarded and will regard IPR protection as a national policy, not only to attract foreign investors and develop markets overseas, but more importantly to meet the country's technological and economic development needs and improve the market economy," said Yin at an IPR forum in Beijing.
In about three decades, China, as the world's largest developing nation, has built a legal framework and made commitments to IPR protection, Yin said, whereas many developed countries took several hundred years to do so.
Huge amounts of resources are spent on trademark, copyright and patent protection. More than 30 million fake trademarks were confiscated and 263 people arrested last year alone.
On the other hand, almost 1 million applications were submitted for trademarks in the past five years, the highest in the world. The number of innovation patent applications exceeded 210,000, the third largest in the world.
The new plan will focus on creation, use, trade, and administration of IPs, instead of only providing them protection. Enterprises will be encouraged to play a leading role in innovation, with incentives like on-site tutorials from IPR professionals, financial aids, easy access to buying or selling of patents, or getting loans with patents as guarantees.
"There is usually a tipping point in terms of the incentive for IPR protection," said Zhang Ping, professor of law at Peking University. "When one passes that tipping point, it offers much higher incentives to protect the rights, like Huawei Technology, for instance."
Besides the overall strategic change, the focus of protection will be wider and more intense.
Regulations against software piracy, once a principal cause of international IPR disputes, has now improved with piracy rates falling by 10 percentage points in the past three years. After government agencies also began buying genuine copies of software, the government told large State-owned enterprises (SOEs) to expedite their process of having only the original stuff. Some of the SOEs are expected to complete the replacement as early as this year.
The battle being raged by the Customs against counterfeits is building up, too, as the government is revising a rule on Customs IPR protection and working on a new regulation to increase IPR protection in foreign trade.
(China Daily 06/07/2007 page2)