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Battery Makers Respond to Patent Investigation
The past month was an eventful one for the Chinese manufacturing sector, it seemed one problem just followed another. Subsequent to the anti-dumping accusation filed against Chinese color TV makers, Chinese battery manufacturers have run into a patent investigation launched recently by the US International Trade Commission.

On a long list of companies targeted for the patent infringement investigation, seven are from the Chinese mainland. The Fujian Nanfu Battery Company is one of them. The company says it will mount an active response to the accusations. "For our company, the US market is one with huge potential and we do not want to give up this market. Therefore, not only our company, but all the Chinese companies concerned will face the issue and will respond to the charge actively."

The petition was filed by major American battery-maker Energizer Holdings together with its subsidiary. The companies claimed that imports of various sizes of zero-mercury-added alkaline batteries and component parts from 26 companies in different countries and regions violated their patent, and asked for permanent general exclusion and cease-desist orders.

China is the world's largest manufacturer and exporter of the specified battery with 75 percent of the output bound for overseas markets. Legal experts say the impact would be devastating for China's battery industry if the accusation is accepted by the US International Trade Commission.

Ran Ruixue, lawyer with the East Associates Law Firm, said, "The infringing products from Chinese companies listed in the petition can't be imported and sold in the US. In case of general exclusion order, all the infringing products from all the Chinese companies can't be imported and sold in the US until the patent expires in 8 years."

China has been hit with an increasing number of international trade disputes concerning intellectual property rights. Experts suggest Chinese manufacturers should pay closer attention to this potentially damaging issue.

Lu Bo, associate research fellow of the WTO Research Center, China Academy of International Trade & Economic Cooperation, said, "As developing countries, China and many other developing countries have disadvantages on this respect. When manufacturers in developing countries want to develop a new product, they have to take very careful concerns about the patent violation."

He also said that these issues don't only concern the companies themselves, but they, the government, the Chamber of Commerce and manufacturer associations need to work together to handle such disputes.

(CCTV.com June 14, 2003)

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