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Enforcement Crucial to IPR Improvement
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Piracy victims in China have long been complaining that punishments are not severe enough. Instances of intellectual property right (IPR) violators receiving sentences from courts used to be rare.

It is not a problem of China's laws, which stipulate that counterfeiters can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison, according to a judicial interpretation issued by the Supreme People's Court in 2004.

Rather, as many agree, it is a problem of enforcement.

Now relevant government departments are acting to tighten enforcement, by smoothing the channel that transfers suspected criminal cases in a timely manner to public security organs.

Yesterday at a press conference, senior officials from the Supreme People's Procuratorate and four government offices in charge of enforcing IPR laws explained in detail some new measures aimed at connecting administrative and judicial measures.

Aside from timely transfer of suspected criminal cases, the measures also include co-operation and restraint between administrative enforcement, public security and judicial organs, which are stipulated to have different responsibilities to perform.

People's procuratorate and supervision organs shall supervise the transferred cases in accordance with law, and all government organs in charge of IPR cases are subject to public scrutiny.

In the case of IPR laws, causes of ineffective enforcement are complicated, ranging from ever-developing pirating technology and people's inadequate awareness of IPR to nonchalance on the part of some local officials towards the issue.

Many of the causes cannot be eradicated overnight. The country has already mapped out its holistic strategy for combating IPR infringement. But everybody agrees it will be a long-term struggle.

However, by establishing a closer connection between administrative and judicial organs, China is addressing a key aspect of the problem.

These measures will certainly deter violators.

With the new measures, IPR owners can expect more effective assistance from law enforcers and judicial organs.

China's intention to fight IPR violation is genuine. It not only has a bearing on China's image in the world, but is also related to an intrinsic need for fostering an innovation-oriented society, which forms a key part for China's development strategy.

Chinese policy-makers and entrepreneurs are well aware that lax IPR enforcement will discourage any creative and innovative efforts.

China's courts are becoming more assertive and play an increasingly important role in protecting IPR owners, both domestic and foreign.

China's trade partners should appreciate all of these positive development in China and work more closely with the country in a constructive way.

(China Daily March 28, 2006)

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