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Nation vows full protection of IPR
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The mechanism to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) will be implemented fully across the country this year, a top IPR official has said.

"The mechanism is vital for the improvement of the country's IPR system and spurring the economy and scientific development," State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) commissioner Tian Lipu said recently.

The mechanism was adopted in July 2005 with the aim of spreading IPR knowledge among the Chinese to enhance their awareness.

The government will set up about 40 service centers to help implement the IPR mechanism. The subsidized centers will offer consultations and financial support to people who cannot afford to apply for IPR protection.

Encouraging hi-tech development among enterprises will get priority under the mechanism, Tian said. And 17 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, including as Guangdong, Guizhou, Shandong and Shanghai have already issued regulations to develop independent hi-tech projects under IPR protection.

Domestic companies and research institutes submitted 5,401 applications for PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) last year, up 38 percent year-on-year, reflecting the growing awareness of IPR laws. And most of the authorized applicants were from the fields of traditional Chinese medicine and food and soft drink, according to SIPO figures.

China, of course, accepts IPR applications from abroad under the WTO framework, and the requirements for them are the same as those for domestic ones, Tian said. But the number of Chinese applying abroad for PCT is less than those from overseas applying in China. The number of applications submitted from abroad reached 92,000 last year, up 4.5 percent over 2006.

Also SIPO will intensify efforts this year to identify people who tend to submit fake innovations for PCT to cash in on their claims in advertisements.

Responding to the doubts raised by some foreign countries on the quality of authorized IPR application in China, Tian said SIPO has set up a special computerized supervision system to help block excessive junk applications. It can reject similar or repeat applications.

The country is alert against IPR for the big two events, the Beijing Olympic Games and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, too, he said.

The Beijing Intellectual Property Administration (BIPA) will open an IPR information website on April 1 to spread Olympic and IPR knowledge among the public. People can report IPR violations on the Beijing Olympics either on the website or dial the hotline 12315 to report trademark infringement cases, BIPA official Zhang Boyou said.

And the National Copyright Administration of China will strengthen supervision across the country to safeguard the copyright for songs and music related to the Olympics, spokeswoman Duan Yuping said.

Shanghai, too, is intensifying efforts to deal with IPR infringements for the 2010 World Expo.

The central and municipal governments have released a number of IPR regulations, which observers say are unprecedented for a single event in China. The move is aimed at encouraging worldwide exhibitors to display their innovative works at the expo.

So far, 194 nations and international organizations have confirmed participation in the Shanghai World Expo, the first to be held in a developing country. More participants are expected to join them. The world expos have served as a platform to showcase or promote many a great invention such as telephone, television, elevator and hamburger.

"IPR is the foundation of a successful World Expo," said Zhou Hanmin, deputy director of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination Committee. "That's why China's State Council (the country's cabinet) passed the Regulation on the Protection of World Expo Logo Marks in a short period of four months and seven days" in October 2004.

"Since then, public awareness on IPR protection has risen, measures against infringement activities intensified, and the regulation produced very good results," Zhou said.

Last year, Expo organizers put forward an "action outline" for IPR issues related to the event, detailing steps to better protect exhibitors' IPR and intensify the crackdown on illegal activities.

"As part of our overall IPR protection strategy, we are adding details to the outline," he said. "IPR is the greatest concern of expo organizers."

Organizers of the Shanghai event have even promised exhibitors they would implement the same regulations to protect IPR as those used at previous expos. That's why visitors to the Shanghai World Expo will be barred from shooting photographs or videos in exhibition halls unless the exhibitors allow them to.

The organizers have invited some IPR protection experts from China's universities and government think tanks to provide consultation service. Other government agencies, including the Customs and the Shanghai Intellectual Property Administration, have vowed to coordinate with the organizers to safeguard IPR.

"We take the issue very seriously," Zhou said. For instance, IPR protection will be applied to Urban Best Practices Area, a zone set aside for cities from across the globe to showcase their way of life at the Shanghai World Expo.

"Although whatever will be shown in the area already exists, innovations will be involved and their IPR will be protected as well," he said.

Till date, 80 cities have submitted 108 cutting-edge architecture and design concepts, which will be short-listed to about 30 by a group of experts and shown at the expo.

(China Daily March 4, 2008)

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