I. China's Basic Position Regarding the
Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
It is the Chinese government's view that the intellectual property protection system plays a significant role in promoting progress in science and technology, enriching culture and developing the economy. It functions both as an important institution ensuring the normal running of the socialist market economy and as one of the basic environments and conditions for conducting international exchange and cooperation in science, technology, economy and culture. China considers the protection of intellectual property an important part of its policy of reform and opening to the outside world and of the building of its socialist legal system. Beginning in the late 1970s, China has been formulating laws and regulations for intellectual property rights protection, and has been participating in activities organized by the relevant international organizations aimed at strengthening international exchange and cooperation in the field of intellectual property rights. From its inception China's intellectual property rights protection system was directed towards the world and geared to high international standards. Spurred on by its reform and opening up, China has carried on its intellectual property protection legislation at a speed never before known.
On March 3, 1980, the Chinese government submitted its application for admission to the World Intellectual Property Organization, and became a member state as of June 3, 1980.
The Trademark Law of the People's Republic of China was adopted at the 24th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Fifth National People's Congress on August 23, 1982, effective March 1, 1983, significantly marking the beginning of the systematic establishment of China's modern legal system for the protection of intellectual property rights.
On March 12, 1984 the fourth meeting of the Standing Committee of the Sixth National People's Congress adopted the Patent Law of the People's Republic of China, effective April 1, 1985.
On December 19, 1984, the Chinese government submitted its instrument of accession to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property to the World Intellectual Property Organization and became a member state as of March 19, 1985.
The General Principles of the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China were adopted at the fourth session of the Sixth National People's Congress on April 12, 1986, effective January 1, 1987. In this legislation, intellectual property rights as a whole were clearly defined in China's basic civil law for the first time as the civil rights of citizens and legal persons. This law for the first time affirmed citizens' and legal persons' right of authorship (copyright).
The Chinese government has also worked hard in helping to build up an international environment wherein intellectual property rights in integrated circuits are protected. The World Intellectual Property Organization adopted the Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Integrated Circuit at a diplomatic conference held in Washington D.C. in 1989; China was among the first signatory states.
The Chinese government presented its instrument of accession to the Madrid Agreement for the International Registration of Trademarks to the World Intellectual Property Organization on July 4, 1989, and became a member state as of October 4, 1989.
The Copyright Law of the People's Republic of China was adopted by the 15th meeting of the Seventh National People's Congress Standing Committee on September 7, 1990, effective June 1, 1991.
On July 10, 1992, the Chinese government presented its instrument of accession to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works to the World Intellectual Property Organization and on July 30, 1992 its instrument of accession to the Universal Copyright Convention to UNESCO, becoming a member state of both conventions as of October 15 and October 30, 1992 respectively.
On January 4, 1993, the Chinese government presented its instrument of accession to the Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms to the World Intellectual Property Organization, and became a member state as of April 30, 1993.
The Law of the People's Republic of China on Combating Unfair Competition was adopted by the third meeting of the Standing Committee of the Eighth National People's Congress on September 2, 1993, and became effective on December 1 of the same year.
On September 15, 1993, the Chinese government submitted its instrument of accession to the Patent Cooperation Treaty to the World Intellectual Property Organization, becoming a member state as of January 1, 1994. The Patent Office of China is China's agency dealing with cases involving the Patent Cooperation Treaty, performing international patent searches and preliminary examinations.
The above are only part of the records of China's intellectual property legislation and its participation in the activities organized by related international organizations, demonstrating the importance China has attached to intellectual property protection.
The basic framework for China's intellectual property rights protection legal system was completed for the most part in the 1980s. In the 1990s, international economic relations and the international economic environment have already undergone great changes. In November, 1990, multilateral trade negotiations in GATT's Uruguay Round produced a draft Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. This signaled that a new international standard of intellectual property rights protection was taking form. The Chinese government actively participated in the negotiations and made unremitting efforts towards their final success. In order to meet the needs of the ever-wider opening up, China has consciously sought to fulfil its international obligations in intellectual property rights protection, endeavouring to bring its intellectual property protection level near the new international standards, and has taken many major measures to further raise its current level of intellectual property rights protection.
The Chinese government's sincerity in its efforts to scrupulously abide by international conventions and bilateral agreements regarding the protection of intellectual property rights, and its capacity to fully implement its international obligations have been appreciated and supported by world opinion. When reviewing the World Intellectual Property Organization's past 20 years of cooperation with China, Dr. Arpad Bogsch, Director-General of the Organization, pointed out that "China had accomplished all this at a speed unmatched in the history of intellectual property protection."
China adheres to the principle in legal system that "there shall be laws to abide by, everyone should abide by the law, the law must be enforced strictly, and those who violate the law must be dealt with." Still, the intellectual property rights protection system has only comparatively recently been introduced in China, and some portion of the population has a rather incomplete understanding of intellectual property rights. In order to better implement this principle, while improving its legal system, enforcing the laws earnestly and striking relentless blows at infringements and other unlawful practices, China has spared no efforts in publicizing and providing education about the intellectual property protection legal system and in accelerating the training of professional personnel in this field. In China the promulgation of every intellectual property law was followed by widespread publicity through the media and distribution of large quantities of educational video-tapes and seperate editions of the law. Mean-while, governments at all levels ran legal knowledge forums and training classes so as to promptly make the relevant law known to all the people. After the revision of the Patent Law, for instance, millions of people throughout China attended such classes, the attendance in Hunan Province alone reaching 600,000 people. The fact that there has been an increasing number of cases involving intellectual property rights in recent years and that these cases have been remedied through recourse to law reflects the people's heightened awareness and the wide spread of intellectual property rights knowledge throughout society. In order to speed up the training of personnel in this field, the Chinese government has, in close cooperation with related international organizations, sent people abroad to study or to attend training classes and seminars. Together with the World Intellectual Property Organization, China has held more than 30 training classes and seminars, with the attendance of over 3,000 people. Programmes in intellectual property rights education and research have also been initiated at over 70 institutions of higher learning throughout the country. In 1986, a teaching and research centre for intellectual property rights was established at the People's University of China, enrolling non-law majors to study for a second degree in intellectual property rights; Beijing University's School of Intellectual Property Rights was founded in 1993 on the basis of the achievements it had attained in teaching and research in this regard. An education system for training professional personnel in this field for their second, Master's or Doctor's degrees has gradually taken form in China, providing the nation with batch after batch of qualified personnel in intellectual property rights protection.