As a sign of greater efforts to protect intellectual property rights, the State Council has expanded a special IPR protection campaign from a week or a month to a whole year.
“We have mobilized a huge amount of public resources in many government departments to solve the IPR issue, which is a kind of private right in terms of definition," said Zhang Qin, vice-commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office.
"We have done so to meet the rising demand of domestic economic and industrial development, and meanwhile to protect the interests of foreign investors better."
The number of patent applications from foreign companies in China was growing even before the country joined the WTO, thanks to the country's better investment environment and IPR protection over the past two decades.
Latest statistics indicate that last year, the top 10 foreign corporations that applied for patents in China were: Matsushita of Japan, Samsung Electronics of the Republic of Korea, Seiko and Canon of Japan, LG of the Republic of Korea, Sony, Sanyo Electronics, Toshiba and Mitsubishi of Japan, and IBM of the United States.
Zhang said domestic companies should redouble their efforts to develop patented technology to protect their own intellectual property rights.
They should also respect the patent rights of foreign companies.
Zhang said that before the end of this year, relevant departments are expected to provide judicial interpretations of questions regarding laws applicable to IPR-related crimes and severely punish IPR infringements.
The move aims to improve the efficiency of law enforcement and more effectively curb rampant IPR infringements in the country, he said.
He called for more efforts to improve the public's awareness of IPR protection because some infringements have been indeliberately carried out.
Wang Ziqiang, an official of the National Copyright Administration, said pirated books, audio and video products can sell on the market because the public can buy them at cheaper prices.
Not all people have clear ideas that pirated products badly affect the development of native corresponding industries in the long run.
Wang said his administration will focus more on publicizing copyright protection among the public and improve supervision of audio and video markets next year.
Copyright administrations across the country have made efforts over the past three years to crack down on piracy activities.
In the first half of this year alone, authorities closed 11 illegal production lines of compact disks and video compact disks.
Wang's administration has issued a notice calling on regional copyright administrations to investigate any activities of computer software piracy.
Sources with the State Intellectual Property Office said many provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have already intensified IPR protection campaigns.
Zhejiang, Guangdong and Sichuan provinces are conducting massive inspections in food and medicine markets.
Sichuan Province will work with the Embassy of the United States in the first three months of next year to supervise IPR protection in the province.
Crucial to investment environment
To the Ministry of Commerce, the protection of intellectual property rights is an important measure to improve the investment environment and fuel economic growth, said Zhang Zhigang, vice-minister of commerce.
While China has made great progress in international trade cooperation, without effective nationwide anti-counterfeiting measures it will be difficult to maintain its attractiveness for foreign and domestic investors or to encourage technological innovation, Zhang said.
To improve the administrative force on IPR protection, China has established a national work group led by Vice-Premier Wu Yi, and a working group office, led by Zhang, has been set under the ministry.
The working group includes more than 10 departments including the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Commerce, State Administration of Industry and Commerce, State Bureau of Quality Inspection, the General Administration of Press and Publications, the State Food and Drug Administration, State Intellectual Property Office, General Administration of Customs, Ministry of Information industry, Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate.
A regular communicating and coordinating mechanism with foreign-invested enterprises was organized by the ministry last year, Zhang said.
Every quarter, a session will be held, when the department will communicate with foreign-invested enterprises regularly on issues concerning fake commodities, protecting intellectual property rights, improving the foreign investment environment, and listening to their opinions and suggestions.
So far, four sessions have been held and have been welcomed by those foreign businessmen.
For example, as suggested by foreign investors, a judicial interpretation on lowering the threshold of Law Enforcement in IPR Protection is expected to work out before the end of this year.
Zhang said IPR protection is a challenge not only for China, but for the whole world.
China has stepped up its efforts to protect IPR.
The newly revised Foreign Trade Law, which was implemented on July 1 this year, adds a chapter about protecting IPR in trade.
The Chinese Export Commodities Fair, the largest export fair in China which is sponsored by the ministry, keeps strengthening protection as companies improve their awareness.
China has cooperated in many ways with other countries and welcomes their experience in this regard, Zhang said.
China and the European Union kicked off an eight-year project in 1996 to help China apply international standards on protecting intellectual property.
Seminars, training programs and consultation were implemented to boost the effects of protection.
(China Daily November 8, 2004)