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Patents are a virtue in China's intellectual property boom

Updated: 2009-06-15 08:09
By Tuo Yannan (China Daily)

June 5 marked the first anniversary of the implementation of China's national intellectual property (IP) strategy.

In the past year, great changes and improvements had been made in the IP field.

For instance, intellectual property rights (IPR) applications in China have increased dramatically. There were 828,328 patent applications last year, up 19.4 percent year-on-year. In addition, there were also about 698,000 applications for trademarks.

In 2008, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) granted 411,982 patents, up 17.1 percent year-on-year. Some 93,706 patents were also granted for inventions, an increase of 37.9 percent.

Among the granted patents last year, 352,406 were granted to domestic applicants, representing 85.5 percent of the total and up 16.8 percent year-on-year. A further 59,576 were granted to overseas applicants, representing 14.5 percent of the total and up 18.8 percent. Invention patents granted to domestic applications accounted for 49.7 percent of the total, further narrowing the gap with overseas applicants.

Improving legislation

Notable progress has also been made in the field of legislation. With the implementation of the IP strategy, several IP-related laws have been revised or amended. The strategy is expected to form the basis for the further revision of China's outdated copyright, trademark and patent laws.

The strategy has set the strategic goals of completing all the revisions by 2020, to bring the country's IP laws up to date.

On December 27 2008, the Sixth Session of the 11th Standing Committee of the National People's Congress approved the Decision Regarding the Amendment of the Patent Law of the People's Republic of China, which was released under the No 8 Chairman's Decree and signed by Chairman Hu Jintao.

The amended patent law will take effect from October 1, 2009. The smooth completion of the third amendment of the patent law was another milestone in the development of the Chinese patent system.

Fu Shuangjian, vice-minister of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, said the trademark law will be amended within five years, while Xu Chao, deputy director of National Copyright Administration, said the revision of the copyright law will be carried out in stages.

Enforcement actions

The past year also demonstrated the determination of the customs, police and cultural authorities in combating IPR violations.

The General Administration of Customs revealed that since the implementation of the strategy, the customs nationwide checked over 20,000 batches of imported and exported cargos for IPR violations.

In 2008, in order to fulfill their duty in protecting trademarked Olympic symbols, customs officers also intensified inspections in a number of key areas, including companies and products. This resulted in the seizure of 3.83 million yuan of commodities infringing Olympic IPRs and effectively curbed the export and import of goods infringing Olympic IPRs.

In April 2008, the Ministry of Culture issued the Circular on Initiating Actions to Regulate the Cultural Market to Safeguard the Olympics. The ministry dispatched 11 groups of officials to monitor enforcement actions in cultural markets in the host cities.

In July 2008, the Forum on Protection of Olympic IPRs, sponsored by SIPO and organized by the Beijing Intellectual Property Office, was held in Beijing to discuss issues relating to Olympic IPR protection. Local offices prioritized their enforcement actions on patent infringement relating to the Olympics. The Beijing Intellectual Property Office also teamed up with other government bodies to establish a taskforce for IPR protection in this regard.

In addition, China's Administrations for Industry and Commerce (AICs) launched nationwide initiatives aimed at supporting the legislation. This resulted in 1,721 cases being bought against firms and individuals illegally using Olympic symbols worth a total of 16.59 million yuan and resulted in fines of 7.27 million yuan being imposed.

The Chinese government's efforts in protecting Olympic IPR were duly recognized and praised by the Chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rouge, and the international community at large.

(China Daily 06/15/2009 page9)

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