As a result of the rapid development of science and technology and economic globalization, China's intellectual property (IP) system was dramatically enforced and made much progress during the 10th Five-Year Plan (200l--2005). More and more attention is being attached to the IPR in China and it has become one of the fundamental and important measures to promote the nation's innovation and competitive capacities.
IP Legal System Established
After joining the WTO, China undertook comprehensive amendment and enrichment of the relevant laws concerning IP right (IPR) protection, and promulgated some new provisions. The purpose was to provide much stronger legal backing as well as giving greater prominence to IPR in the development of science and technology, and the national cause of independent innovation. In the five years from 200l to 2005, the revision and formulation of many IPR-related laws and regulations included the Patent Law, Law of Copyright, Law on Trademarks, Regulations on Customs Intellectual Property Protection, Regulation on Computer Software Protection, Regulation on Integrated Circuit Design Protection, Regulation on Olympic Signs Protection, Regulation on Collective Copyright, Regulation on Audio-Visual Products, Regulations on National Defense Patents, and Regulation on Special Signals; relevant government departments and legal bodies also produced a string of regulations, documents and judicial interpretations. These, together with other laws and regulations, have enabled China to create a complete IPR legal system more closely aligned with international norms, and are of great significance to the establishment of the national IPR system.
Quantity and Quality of IP Improved
In the 10th Five-Year Plan, applications for patents, trademark registration, copyright, new plant varieties, software and integrated circuit design dramatically increased. Utility model and design applications in each year of the period were first in the world; invention patent applications in the later years rose to third place in the world, and patents covering new plant varieties reached fourth place. Patent applications in the past five years equaled those filed between 1986 and 2000, while the trademark applications equaled the total filed between 1980 and 2000. In 2004, China's patent applications reached the second million-level only four years and two months after passing the first million mark, which took some 15 years to achieve.
China began to adopt a nation-wide trademark system in 1980 and had one million trademarks registered in 2000; but, by 2005, there were three million. The rapid development of China's national economy provides a favorable environment for the cause of IPR, and public awareness of IPR has been much increased.
In the five-year period, applications of the three kinds of patents totaled 1,594,762, or 2.5 times that recorded in the 9th Five-Year Plan, with an annual increase rate of 22.8 percent; the patent examination process was speeded up and the examining efficiency remarkably improved. Meanwhile, trademark applications enjoyed a 30 percent average annual increase. By the end of 2005, China had accepted 950 applications regarding integrated circuit design and approved 833 patents. In the same period, the trade in copyright expanded at an annual increase rate of 30%, while applications from writers, after a sharp increase in 2000 (70 percent), continued to enjoy steady growth. The patent administration accepted a total of 2,984 applications for new agricultural plant varieties and 378 applications regarding forestry plant varieties by the end of 2005, with an annual increase rate as high as 53 percent. Geological signal protection also made progress, and, by the end of 2005, 539 signals were protected.
The dramatic increase of patents symbolized in the past five years the prosperity of China's market economy, sound investment environment and big potential in invention and innovations.
Macro administration of IP further enforced
China's IPR administration departments at various levels fulfilled their duties in regard to management to accelerate IP progress. Research work about IP policy, instructions from the Central IP administration to IP management entities in local areas, and construction of local IPR administrative offices all witnessed considerable improvement, and for the sake of further promoting IPR, many IPR model units were appraised.
In 2004, China established the National IP Leading Group, symbolizing the birth of a coordination mechanism among different ministries and departments. Later, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) was listed in many cross-ministerial leading groups, such as the National Office of Rectification and Standardization of Market Economic Order, National IPR Working Office, the Organizing Committee of the 29th Olympic Games, the Organizing Committee of 2010 Shanghai Expo as well as other groups or conferences. These developments all indicate SIPO's increasingly prominent role in many fields.
National IP Strategy Formulation started and phrasal result achieved
In order to speed up scientific and technological progress and development of a knowledge-based economy, meet the new situation created by radical economic globalization, and enhance China's competitiveness in international markets, SIPO presented a report to the central government appealing for a formulation of a national IP strategy. After approval, the National Leading Group of IP Strategy Formulation was formally established on January 8, 2005 and its first plenary meeting was held on June 30. It was agreed that research of strategic principles should start, along with that of 20 distinct subjects relating to IP. Some 30 ministries and departments became involved in the research and drafted reports. SIPO was appointed to preside over the two programs: formulation of principles and the patent strategy, and IPR agent service system. The drafting of the National IPR Strategy Formulation will be completed by the end of 2006.
Dramatic Achievements in IPR Protection
From August 2004 to the end of 2005, many special campaigns aimed at protecting IP were carried out. The copyright and publication administration department investigated and handled more than 50 million counterfeit and pirate products, and closed 19,000 illegal businesses; the patent administration received 2,818 fresh cases related to patent infringements as well as 331 other relevant disputes, settled a total of 3,176 counterfeit patent cases and 304 cases infringing other rights of patentees, and transferred 23 cases to the police. Until the end of September 2005, China's Industrial and Commercial Administration had investigated more than 50,000 infringement cases and imposed fines totaling 376 million Yuan. From 2000 and 2004, Chinese procuratorates at various levels arrested 2,533 suspects regarding IPR infringements and brought 2,566 people to court.
During the 10th Five-Year Plan, China saw the following dramatic progress in IP in other aspects, and created a favorable environment for the development of the market economy:
Various ministries and departments of Chinese government set up a coordination mechanism to investigate and crack down on piracy and patent infringements;
Customs protection of the IPR system was established;
The audio-visual market was rectified and various infringements and other illegal activities were punished and combated;
Supervision of the Internet and other information media was enforced;
Administrative and judicial departments as well as procuratorates at various levels enforced their endeavors to punish any infringement and illegal activities, and the judicial reexamination of decisions concerning IPR by executive departments was strengthened.
Public IP awareness fostered
The Chinese Government attaches great importance to publicizing IP knowledge and laws. During the 10th Five-Year Plan, wide-scale training programs brought in officials at various levels and many businesses throughout the country, while IPR awareness among ordinary people was much enhanced. From 2004, the government decided to sponsor an IPR Week from April 20 to 26 every year to publicize knowledge about IP. The main events include seminars, IP knowledge competition, massive and dedicated reports and public advertisements about IPR in the mass media as well as many other ways.
International cooperation and communications made new progress
China now is playing a more and more active role in the reform and adjustment of international IPR rules, and is dealing with complicated IP affairs in a proper and reasonable way, creating a more positive image through international cooperation. China's communications with and publicizing efforts to the world in the IPR field have been improved through a dialogue and cooperation mechanism established with many countries, international organizations and foreign-funded enterprises in China. What is more, China has become a member country of many international IPR organizations and treaties.
The 10th Five-Year Plan period saw the rapid modernization of China's IP, and laid a solid foundation for realizing the IP strategy and further development in the 11th Five-Year Plan to turn China into a strong IP protecting country.