WTO Review Provides Update On China’s IP Rise

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A World Trade Organization review of China’s trade policy includes assessments of the country’s progress on adopting – and becoming a leader of – the global intellectual property rights system.

The WTO secretariat report provided for the review meeting last week provides some detail [see Trade policies and practices by measure, pp 85-97] on the numerous IP-related initiatives underway in China, and includes data on its rapid rise to a top global patent-filer as well as the procedures for licensing and for compulsory licensing. It also contains a short section on IP enforcement.

The 12 and 14 June meeting was the Second Session of the Fourth WTO Trade Policy Review of China. The WTO website for the China review is here.

The basis for the meeting discussions was the secretariat report and a report from the Chinese government. China joined the WTO in 2001 and was reviewed annually until last year, when it moved to every two years.

In its report [pdf, p. 11], the Chinese government said it has done in 30 years what western countries had “several hundred years” to do by developing an IP system.

It said that its creation of a 29-agency lead group on IP enforcement indicates “that the government regards crackdown on infringements of intellectual property rights and manufacturing and selling of counterfeit commodities as a long-term task and will never slacken its efforts.”

Yu Jianhua, assistant Minister of Commerce, was head of the Chinese delegation to the review meeting. In a 14 June statement [pdf], he sought to counter concerns that in the past two years, little change was made to China’s policy on imports and investment from abroad, and that China’s reform and process of opening might be stalling.

China still has the reputation for being the biggest source of counterfeit and pirated products in the world.

On IPR protection, Yu said: “The Chinese government has taken a clear-cut position, shown a strong determination and taken decisive actions, with Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice Premier Wang Qishan are at the helm. IPR protection is China’s national strategy and is being implemented steadily.”

Referring to a 15 May State Council release of the “Working Priorities in IPR Enforcement in 2012,” Yu said “China will carry out special IPR enforcement campaigns on trademark protection, copyright protection, patent protection, geographical indication protection, online shopping, exports and imports, drugs and cosmetics, and agricultural supplies, etcetera.”

“More efforts will be made to fight infringement of trade secrets, and criminal punishment will have an important role to play in IPR protection,” he vowed. “Mr. Chairman, the Chinese government will make sustained efforts to improve enforcement of IPR laws and regulations.”

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