US, China Agree On IPR Measures, Including Training Of Chinese Officials

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The United States and China today announced agreements on a series of measures to strengthen intellectual property rights protection in China.

The agreements were reached as part of regular bilateral meetings, held on 19-20 December in Beijing.

US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and US Trade Representative Michael Froman, together with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, co-chaired the 24th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).  US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was there to address agricultural concerns.  Other participants included US Ambassador to China Gary Locke, US Trade and Development Agency Director Leocadia Zak, and representatives from the State and Treasury departments, according to a fact sheet issued today. 

The highlights of the joint meeting included numerous intellectual property issues, such as trade secrets, counterfeits, pharmaceutical patent disclosure requirements, and trademarks.

On trade secrets, China committed under its 2014 action plan to “adopt and publish” an action programme on trade secret protection and enforcement. The programme is expected to include:

“Concrete enforcement actions;

Improvements of public awareness about the importance of not infringing trade secrets and the penalties for infringement; and

Requirements for strict compliance with all laws, regulations, rules and other measures on trade secrets protection and enforcement by all enterprises and individuals.”

The US is welcome to make suggestions for actions, and China will provide updates as it implements the plan.

The two governments agreed to cooperate next year on proposals to amend trade secret law and other policy issues. China agreed to give “serious consideration to U.S. legislative reform proposals,” the fact sheet said.

On data disclosure requirements for pharmaceutical patents, China simply “re-affirmed” the interpretation that its patent guidelines allow applicants to file additional data after filing their applications, and that the guidelines are subject to rules that ensure pharmaceutical inventions receive patent protection. Relevant agencies on both sides will continue to engage on specific cases, it said.

The two governments restated a commitment to fight IP infringement and counterfeit goods. “The United States and China recognize the importance of this issue and will conduct further discussions in 2014, including exchanges of relevant information, on detailed approaches towards this goal,” the fact sheet reads.

In other areas, the two sides will “continue dialogue” on more enforcement against counterfeit and substandard semiconductors. They also will increase cooperation on cross-border investigations relating to counterfeit and substandard semiconductors.

On trademark, they agreed to “continue communications and exchanges” on “bad faith” trademark registrations through “existing bilateral and plurilateral channels.”

Training of Chinese Officials

In another area, the agreement includes a commitment to work on improvements to both sides’ civil IP enforcement systems, including throught the JCCT IPR working group. The plans to raise issues such as “enhancements to the civil IP enforcement system, such as access to courts, improving discovery methods, enhancing evidence and asset preservation, and maintaining an accessible collection of decisions in IP cases,” it said.

Separately, a memorandum of understanding was signed under the bilateral IP Cooperation Framework Agreement to provide a programme of technical assistance to “Chinese intellectual property agencies, courts and the legislature” on IP protection and enforcement, as well as non-discriminatory and pro-competitive innovation policies. The fact sheet details a series of workshops and trainings to be held.

Among an accompanying list of lucrative deals reached for the United States was the memorandum of understanding on intellectual property rights training aimed at increasing Chinese government capacity and commitment to protect IP rights.

According to the summary:

“Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and China’s Ministry of Commerce in Support of Intellectual Property Rights

Training: The goal of this MOU is to increase the capacity and commitment of Chinese government agencies, courts and legislature to ensuring that IP is adequately protected and enforced. USTDA is offering a series of four technical workshops and a U.S.-based training program that will share U.S. experience in order to help China further strengthen the protection of intellectual property.  The workshops will be part of a larger program of assistance that is supported across the U.S. government, including USTR and the Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office.”

A copy of the full MOU does not appear to be publicly available.

 

William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

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