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China's Traditional Cultural Heritage Under Protection

Ancient Chinese history recorded some of the greatest inventions in the world at that time. Now, in the age of globalization the patent system needs to be used to protect China's traditional cultural heritage.

An international seminar on the "Application and Protection of Intellectual Property" was held Wednesday. Experts from home and abroad held that strengthening the intellectual property rights system is urgently required in China, in order to promote traditional Chinese culture and explore its potential value.

Experts pointed out that intellectual property has become a new form of currency in world trade. It is now vital to control intellectual property on technological, biomedical and production processes -- more vital than controlling the physical means of production itself.

Pharmaceutical companies in the United States and Europe are obtaining patents at the rate of thousands each year. The materials and methods of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are of great interest to these companies.

A complete survey and analysis of the components of TCM and its modern development would be sensible. The purpose of such a survey would be to identify and create patents on irreplaceable medical technology before it becomes widely applied elsewhere.

Japanese interests expropriated a unique cloisonne production method from its Chinese home. The method had no patent protection in China or elsewhere, and its cultural and economic value to China has greatly diminished. Japanese business subsequently filed patents restricting China's ability to enjoy the economic value of its own assets.

Treatment that evolves from traditional methods and unique techniques should be considered as an important contribution to national economic and social progress and should be protected by patents.

"Imagine if the science of acupuncture, which has been widely adopted worldwide, was subject to intellectual property control by China. Now extend that image to other methods and products of Chinese inventions. One quickly can see the potential size of the markets involved, in every technology sector," said David J. Pratt, vice president of the M-CAM Company in America.

A Chinese official said, China has for a long time had the largest numbers of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers in the world. Add to that the practitioners of TCM, the scholars, craftsmen, artisans and businesspersons in all fields. Clearly, there is an immense national heritage to protect and defend.

China passed through its first Patent Law in 1984, and revised it last year. In past years, the Chinese patent system has protected unique cultural items from inappropriate exploitation on world markets.

Up to now, a group of high and new technology enterprises with independent intellectual property and competitive abilities have been available through technological renovation works dominated with patent achievement.

The famous Haier Group has conducted the most patent applications among the enterprises in China during the subsequent years.

(People's Daily 04/12/2001)

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