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China, EU Cooperate on IPR Protection

The European Union (EU) and the National Copyright Administration of China are focusing on ways to further improve enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR), officials attending a joint IPR exchange program said.

China will fight piracy and further educate the public on anti-piracy issues throughout this year, administration official Wang Ziqiang said Monday in Beijing.

Paul Vandoren, head of an IPR unit at the Directorate-General for Trade at the European Commission, said that tremendous change has taken place in China as the government has realized the importance of IPR protection.

Vandoren, who has been following China's IPR system since 1993, said he is very impressed with the progress of the IPR system in the country during the past two decades.

However, he is concerned about IPR legislation and enforcement. China should do more to ensure effective enforcement across the nation and to implement regulations that ensure copyright holders of music and video products are paid by broadcasters, said Vandoren.

Currently, the country has no regulations clearly defining rules for payments by broadcasters to copyright holders for use of products that are not published.

Vandoren said he is glad to learn that China will soon set up a national intellectual property rights task group, headed by Vice Premier Wu Yi. He hopes it will mobilize regional IPR administrations to more effective enforcement.

He said the EU will cooperate more with the State Intellectual Property Office and other IPR-related departments.

Wang said the administration is working with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television to develop a regulation as soon as possible, so as to better protect copyright holders of music and video products.

He said China is also drafting rules to protect copyrights of works published on the Internet.

In the past two decades, China has implemented patent, trademark and copyright laws and regulations that basically meet international standards. Both judicial and administrative departments are responsible for supervision and enforcement, said Wang.

However, piracy is still rampant in some areas. Public IPR awareness remains weak as a result of 40 years of a planned economy.

Moreover, with a population of 1.3 billion, most of whom have lower incomes, cheaper pirated products are extremely popular in the market, Wang pointed out. "We must strengthen our battle against piracy to avoid those activities becoming more rampant."

He added that the Chinese government is willing to listen to opinions and suggestions from the European Union and other countries.

The EU-China joint IPR program was first outlined in 1996 and substantially implemented in 2000, with a view toward nationwide development of IPR in China. It focuses on training judges and lawyers, educating the public and administrators, and providing assistance to universities and research institutions.

China and the EU have conducted mutual exchanges of specialists and held a series of seminars as part of the program.

(China Daily July 6, 2004)

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