US, China Hold High-Level Talks On IP Policy

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The United States and China made notable progress on a range of intellectual property policy issues in cabinet-level meetings ending today, according to the US government.

The 22nd US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) took place in Chengdu, China on 20-21 November. Participating were US Commerce Secretary John Bryson, US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, US Ambassador to China Gary Locke, US Trade and Development Agency Director Leocadia Zak, and representatives from the US State and Treasury Departments. Senior Chinese officials from 23 ministries and agencies also attended, according to USTR.

According to USTR, China “agreed to make a significant systemic change in its enforcement of intellectual property rights.” China agreed to make permanent a special IP rights campaign it ran in 2010, through a high-level central government enforcement structure led by Wang Qishan.

USTR also said China’s leadership committed to “increased political accountability,” where provincial officials’ performance will be measured based on enforcement of IP rights in their regions.

“For the first time, China will establish a permanent leadership structure to enforce intellectual property rights,” Secretary Bryson said in a release. “As enforcement becomes effective, those who infringe will no longer be able to lay low until a crackdown is over and then simply resume their illegal activities.”

In addition, USTR said, the Chinese vice premier “personally committed” to continue a software legalisation programme at all levels of government, with targets in the next year, such as audits and inspections with published results.

Other key topics of discussion included, according to a USTR fact sheet: indigenous innovation (the elimination of measures linking innovation policies to government procurement preferences); non-discrimination in investment, tax and other regulatory measures de-linking benefits from where IP rights are owned or developed or licensing of technology by foreign investors.

The Chinese government also agreed to continue working to develop solutions to combat the sale of infringing goods on the Internet, while at the same time moving forward to develop additional protections for legitimate trademarks. All of China’s commitments on intellectual property rights will enhance the protection of U.S. innovative products and promote job creation in the United States.

Also, as China carries out plans to invest $1.5 trillion in new sectors in the next five years, it “assured the United States that it will provide a fair and level playing field for all companies, including U.S. companies, in China’s strategic, newly emerging industries, including high-end equipment manufacturing, energy-saving and environmentally-friendly technologies, biotechnologies, new generation information technologies, alternative energy, advanced materials and new energy vehicles,” USTR said.

Other areas were enhanced protection of regulatory data for pharmaceuticals, new strategies against counterfeit drugs, and agreements on smart grid technologies, standards and conformity assessment, and telecommunications, broadcast tariff rates, bad-faith trademark filings, patent quality, cloud computing and life sciences innovation.

A US-China government/industry programme against online sales of counterfeit physical products on the internet will launch in spring 2012. Roundtables will be held to discussion online copyright protection.

The USTR fact sheet is here.

William New may be reached at

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