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IPR Awareness to Get a Boost

The State Intellectual Property Office, China’s intellectual property watchdog, announced Tuesday that Intellectual Property Protection Publicity Week, a nationwide campaign to publicize IPR protection, will begin in six days.


The activity is jointly organized by nine government agencies under the State Council in celebration of World Intellectual Property Day, said Wang Jingchuan, commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office. Wang Ziqiang, spokesman for the National Copyright Administration, and An Qinghu, director of the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, appeared with Wang at a Tuesday press conference sponsored by the State Council Information Office in Beijing.


China’s IPR system improved in 2003, with the total number of applications for three kinds of patents breaking 300,000 and the number of applications for trademark registration passing 450,000, said Wang. The fight against intellectual property infringement intensified, with particularly notable advances made in the protection of new varieties of plants.


Yet piracy remains rampant in China. Wang Ziqiang, spokesman of the National Copyright Administration, attributed the phenomenon to a short legislative history concerning IPR protection. Public awareness is relatively weak and many operators don’t fully understand the market economy. This has led to widespread demand for pirated disks.


Wang Ziqiang said that accurate figures are not available yet concerning the economic losses resulting from piracy, since neither the government nor non-governmental organizations have so far conducted systematic and detailed investigations on the issue.


However, the Chinese government has called in the heavy forces to crack down on unlawful activities. Since 1996, 182 illegal videodisk production lines have been shut down. From 1996 to 2003, the customs office confiscated some 300 million pirated disks; and immigration inspectors have stepped up monitoring as well, which has dealt a blow to piracy.


Wang pointed out that the equipment used on the 182 illegal production lines was all imported. Also, he said, there has been a veritable flood of pirated disks smuggled into China, illustrating that many copyright infringement and piracy cases come from abroad.


China, he said, is affected the most by infringement and piracy, which have adversely influenced its economic development. Although ending piracy is a long-term, complex and difficult job, as long as all levels of government make sustained efforts the phenomenon will be contained, said Wang.


Wang Jingchuan echoed him, saying that IPR infringement is a historical problem in any market economy and one that needs continuous and hard work to resolve.


“I understand the legal actions of some foreign countries, including Japan, the United States and those in Europe, against some Chinese companies for IPR infringement. But in fact, countries that have implemented IPR systems for hundreds of years had a historical period plagued with a flood of infringements, fake goods and business deceits. Even today, in my personal opinion, no country is free of infringement and only the degree of infringement varies.”


The Chinese government attaches great importance to strengthening IPR protection, according to Wang Jingchuan. In 2000 and 2001, China revised its major intellectual property laws and regulations, such as the Patent Law, the Trademark Law, the Copyright Law, and the Regulations on Protection of Computer Software.


It also put in place numerous administrative regulations and procedures, such as the Regulations on Protection of the Layout Design of Integrated Circuits, Implementing Measures on Copyright Administrative Sanction and Measures on Administration of Patent Agencies. Rules and regulations that are inconsistent with those of the WTO have been abolished.


“We are confident that we can curb the phenomenon some day through the building of a legal system, law enforcement, publicity, related training and other measures. We are also willing to take advice from others and resolve related problems according to international practice and Chinese laws,” Wang Jingchuan said.


(China.org.cn, April 14, 2004)

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