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China's Progress in IPR Protection
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"China's attitude toward the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) is obviously serious and earnest," Jiang Zengwei, vice minister of commerce said at a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday. "Under the leadership of the State Council, all IPR-related departments work together to combat IPR infringements. And big progress has been made."


Jiang went on to highlight key achievements made to date.


First, after thorough investigations by the General Administration of Press and Publication, the owners of 14 disc-copying enterprises have been punished.


Second, the central government has mandated the use of genuine software by government offices and enterprises. By March 30, 2005, local governments in 36 provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities and cities which enjoy provincial-level status in the state economic plan had complied with the mandate.


As of the beginning of this year, 330 municipal governments across the country received funding to buy genuine software. In more economically developed areas such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and Zhejiang, 123 county level governments have installed genuine software.


The widespread implementation of genuine software in big enterprises is to be undertaken this year. Last month, the Ministry of Information Industry, National Copyright Administration and Ministry of Commerce issued a requirement that all computer-producing enterprises are to use only authentic operating systems.


Third, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce issued a notice in February 2006 urging local governments to regulate the wholesale and retail markets. Responding to the notice, the Shanghai government announced that a market on Xiangyang Road that is well known for its pirated goods will be shut down at the end of June.


Fourth, in 2004, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate jointly issued a judicial interpretation of IPR provisions in the criminal law. They concluded that the relevant provisions apply to tape and video products. Further, to facilitate cooperation between administrative and justice departments, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, National Office of Rectification and Standardization of Market Economic Order and Ministry of Supervision jointly released a document that allows for the transfer of cases from department to department.


Special courtrooms have also been set up for IPR infringement cases in the People's Court above intermediate level. A total of 3,567 cases including IPR infringement, production, sale of fake goods and illegal management were heard in 2005, 27.9 percent higher than the previous year. 3,529 cases were solved, an increase of 28.3 percent from the year before. 


Fifth, several events related to IPR protection at exhibitions and trade fairs have been organized and more are in the pipeline. The Ministry of Commerce, State Administration for Industry and Commerce, National Copyright Administration, and State Intellectual Property Office jointly issued "Exhibition-related IPR Protection Methods" in February.


In addition, the Ministry of Commerce, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, National Copyright Administration, State Intellectual Property Office, General Administration of Customs and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) announced that 10 major governmental exhibitions and 10 commercial exhibitions will be targeted for IPR protection between now and March 2007.


Sixth, China continues to do its part, in accordance with its World Trade Organization commitments, in terms of bilateral information exchange with other member countries including the US, Japan and EU states. For increased transparency in this area, China regularly seeks public opinion, from foreign enterprises as well, when drafting laws and rules on IPR. Moreover, the Supreme People's Court has introduced a special column on its website in which writs of IPR cases are published.


( by Li Xiaohua, April 13, 2006)

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