Developing Intellectual Property to Promote Social and Economic Progress

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-20 16:10
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 China’s intellectual property system was established in the wake of the institution of the reform and opening up policy. The Patent Office of the People’s Republic of China (now the State Intellectual Property Office) was officially established on January 14, 1980. Since that time, China’s intellectual property system has grown by leaps and bounds. The past 30 years have witnessed steady improvement and great achievements in China’s intellectual property system, which have strongly promoted economic and social development.

 Development of China’s intellectual property system has strongly promoted social and economic development

 China gradually developed a legal framework for intellectual property over the past 30 years that is compatible with conditions in the country and in conformity with international rules. In contrast, the equivalent process took developed countries over a hundred years and even hundreds of years to accomplish. China has successfully followed a path for developing an intellectual property system with Chinese characteristics, resulting in the establishment of a fairly comprehensive nationwide administration and enforcement system for protecting intellectual property rights that has obvious Chinese characteristics. As awareness of the importance of intellectual property in Chinese society has continuously grown, the country’s ability to create intellectual property has considerably expanded, and the achievements in intellectual property development have been widely and effectively applied, resulting in its growing role in economic and social development.

    The Symposium with Foreign International Enterprises (FIE) on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Protection was held in Beijing on January 14, 2010. This symposium was sponsored by the Office of the Leading Group for the Nationwide Special Operation against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting. The Chinese government has been organizing nationwide crackdowns on patent fraud, trademark counterfeiting and piracy over recent years. The campaign, which has led to a series of major breakthroughs, has effectively curbed mass IPR infringement in China. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Jin Liangkuai

 The State Council of China promulgated the Outline of the National Intellectual Property Strategy on June 5, 2008. This marked the beginning of a new phase of development for Chinese intellectual property system. Its rapid development effectively promoted improvement in the legal environment, market environment, cultural environment and international environment and played an increasingly important role in economic and social development and scientific innovation.

 China has constantly been improving the legal environment for intellectual property, effectively promoting advances in Chinese science and technology and improving China’s ability for independent innovation. Enactment of the Patent Law, the Trademark Law, the Copyright Law and 19 sets of administrative regulations has formed a fairly comprehensive legal framework for intellectual property. The establishment and improvement of China’s intellectual property system has greatly stimulated innovation and creativity and enhanced the competitiveness of Chinese enterprises. As of the end of November 2010, China had received a total number of 5.852 million domestic patent applications, 3.319 million of which were granted. The number of international patent applications has also increased by a big margin. In 2009, China became the fifth largest filer of patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), filing nearly 8,000 international patent applications, 4.5 times the number filed in 2004.

 Protection of intellectual property has been constantly strengthened, improving the market environment, strongly promoting application of technological advances in actual production and economic development, and greatly boosting the confidence of overseas investors. China has put in place an effective model for the administration and judicial protection of intellectual property with Chinese characteristics that effectively protects the legal rights and interests of domestic and foreign holders of intellectual property and has promoted the transfer and application of high and new technology at home and abroad. Between 2001 and 2009, China’s intellectual property agencies investigated a total of 12,738 patent infringement cases. Local courts heard 3,660 criminal cases related to intellectual property infringement in 2009, resulting in conviction of 5,832 persons. Thanks to the protection provided by the intellectual property system, a great many advances in science and technology have been widely applied in actual production. Patents granted to the 15 gold medal winners at the 12th China Patent Awards had generated a combined 129.3 billion yuan in sales volume and 16.8 billion yuan in profits as of the end of 2009. More and more foreign companies have been setting up R&D operations in China, transferring technology to China and expanding their operations all around China in recent years. As of the end of November 2010, China’s patent offices had received 1.027 million foreign patent applications, 508,000 of which were granted. The volume of foreign patent applications in China has grown by an annual average of over 20% over the past decade, five times the average world rate. There are now more than 1,400 foreign-funded R&D facilities in China, and more than 470 Fortune 500 companies have set up operations in China.

 Greater public awareness of the importance of intellectual property has improved the cultural environment for intellectual property, which has greatly promoted development of socialist culture. We carried out a series of national publicity campaigns through television, radio, the Internet and newspapers in connection with April 26, World Intellectual Property Day, promoting greater public awareness of intellectual property issues in China. One survey indicates that nearly 60% of respondents believe that people are paying more attention to intellectual property issues than five years ago and 61.4% of respondents said they were firmly opposed to piracy of intellectual property rights. The rate of software piracy in China has been declining in recent years, decreasing from 26% in 2005 to 12% in 2009, based on the commuted value. An attitude toward intellectual property of respecting knowledge, admiring innovation and sincerely observing the law is gaining an increasingly more extensive foothold in society. This is effectively helping to foster a national spirit of self-esteem and self-improvement and is promoting the development of socialist culture, thus laying a solid cultural foundation for making China an innovative country.

 We worked to create a favorable international environment for the development of China’s intellectual property, effectively promoting economic and trade cooperation with other countries. China has acceded to nearly all major international intellectual property treaties, including the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs Agreement). In addition, we have established cooperative relationships with major international organizations and the intellectual property agencies of dozens of countries and actively assisted other developing countries. China’s efforts to protect intellectual property have been approved by the WTO TRIPs Council year after year and received a fair appraisal from most countries and international organizations.

 Comprehensive implementation of the country’s strategy for intellectual property for promoting transformation of the pattern of economic development

 China’s intellectual property work will continue to be carried out under the general terms of the Outline of the National Intellectual Property Strategy for some time to come as we strengthen China’s intellectual property system, work to create a favorable legal environment, market environment and social environment for intellectual property work and strive to greatly strengthen the country’s ability to create, utilize, protect and administer intellectual property.

 We are working to improve the legal framework for intellectual property. We are formulating laws and regulations on employee inventions and working out reforms of the regulatory system for external appearance design. In addition, we are streamlining the procedure for confirming the rights of patent holders to shorten the time it takes to confirm patent rights and settle disputes. We are revising the Regulations on Patent Agencies and improving laws and regulations concerning intellectual property protection in foreign trade and at customs. Finally, we are strengthening policy support for the creation and application of intellectual property and related services.

 We are working to improve the country’s ability to manage and protect intellectual property. We are setting up provincial and municipal (prefectural) intellectual property agencies and improving the mechanism for directing and coordinating intellectual property work to enhance the overall level of intellectual property administration. We are stepping up efforts to take all factors into consideration in planning and coordinating efforts to protect intellectual property and improving the country’s patent protection model by strengthening cooperation between the justice and administrative law enforcement systems, thereby effectively reducing the cost of protecting intellectual property. We are improving the system for administrative law enforcement of patent issues, greatly strengthening law enforcement efforts. We are stepping up efforts to set up intellectual property protection and assistance centers in China and developing a mechanism for intellectual property protection and assistance abroad. 

 We are working to greatly enhance our ability to create and utilize intellectual property. We are encouraging people who make innovations to acquire patent rights for them and improving patent subsidy policies. We are improving the platform for practical application of patented technology, developing bases for applying patents in industry and developing a system for pledge financing of intellectual property and application. We are developing a mechanism for reviewing major economic activities involving intellectual property.

 We are strengthening our ability to examine patents. We are improving standards used in patent examination and examination management policy in light of public demand. We are strengthening capacity building of patent examiners and working to develop a more efficient and scientific patent examination and management system as we constantly work to improve the efficiency and quality of examinations. We are creating more flexible, convenient and efficient examination methods and taking a positive and practical attitude toward participation in international cooperation in patent examination work.

 We are improving the way intellectual property information is spread and strengthening intellectual property information services. We are working to establish a multi-level and multi-dimensional public service system to extensively disseminate patent information and promote effective application of patents. We are accelerating efforts to establish a public service platform for national patent information. Plans call for setting up a national patent data center, five regional patent information service centers and 47 local patent information service centers by 2015. We are vigorously promoting the development of intellectual property service industries and encouraging the non-public sector to participate in intellectual property services to foster the development of a group of dedicated patent information service enterprises. We are improving the system of national patent agent qualification examinations and developing a system of patent assistance agencies.

 We are stepping up efforts to develop an intellectual property culture and training more intellectual property personnel. We are working to make more people aware of intellectual property issues, carrying out a vigorous program to develop an intellectual property culture, carrying out extensive campaigns to educate the public about intellectual property and strongly promoting the idea of an intellectual property culture. We are providing education and training for intellectual property personnel, developing accredited education in intellectual property and providing intellectual property training for the general public.

 We are engaging in international exchange and cooperation in all aspects of intellectual property. We are stepping up exchange and cooperation with international organizations concerned with intellectual property such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPRO). We are developing and consolidating multilateral and bilateral communication channels with major countries and regions. Finally, we are maintaining close ties with developing countries and increasing assistance to developing countries for intellectual property development.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.1, 2011)

Note: Author: Commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China


 Related readings:                                                    

 Introduction of SIPO    

 State Intellectual Property Office is directly affiliated to the State Council with main responsibilities including:

 1. Organizing and coordinating IPR protection work nationwide and improving the construction of IPR protection system; establishing the collaboration mechanism of IP law enforcement with related departments to launch relative administrative law-enforcement work; launching the work of publicizing IP-related information; and implementing the Compendium on China National IP Strategy with related departments.

 2. Standardizing the basic order of patent administration; planning and formulating drafts of IP and patent laws and regulations; planning and implementing the policies and systems on patent administration; drafting the policies and measures to standardize patent technology exchanges; guiding local authorities to handle and mediate disputes of patent infringement and crack down on activities such as patent counterfeits and imitations; and guiding and standardizing the assessment work of IP intangible assets with related departments.

 3. Drawing up the policies of foreign-related IP work; researching IP development trends in foreign countries; comprehensively planning foreign-related IP affairs; launching foreign-related negotiation in IP sector according to different categories; and conducting international communications, cooperation and exchanges in patent work.

 4. Working out the development programs for the patent work nationwide, drafting patent working plans, examining and approving special working plans, taking up the responsibility of the construction of the national public service system of patent information, promoting the spread and utilization of patent information with related departments and undertaking the work of patent statistics.

 5. Laying down the criteria of affirming the exclusive rights of patents and integrated circuit layout designs and appointing organizations to manage the work of right affirmation; formulating the criteria of infringing the exclusive rights of patents and integrated circuit layout designs; and developing the policies and measures for the development and supervision of patent agents and intermediary services.

 6. Publicizing and popularizing patent laws, regulations and policies and drafting plans of IP-related education and training according to regulations.

 7. Undertaking other work assigned by the State Council.

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