Top Chinese official says nation 'serious' on IPR protection

Updated: 2011-12-10 08:06

By Cecily Liu (China Daily)

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LONDON - China is "taking a serious stance" on improving protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), said the country's top IPR official amid recent criticism from Western media and business.

Tian Lipu, commissioner of China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), said China is fully committed to bring its IPR law and administration up to international standards at the opening of the first-ever UK-China IP Symposium on Thursday.

Admitting that IPR infringement and piracy in China remains a concern, Tian said the Chinese government is "taking a serious stance on cracking down these illegal activities".

"As a developing economy with a short history of IPR enforcement, China still has a long way to go. However, China's serious efforts and achievements cannot be ignored," he said, adding that the growing number of foreign companies willing to file their patent applications with SIPO demonstrate their trust in China's IPR system.

China's patent laws were introduced in 1984. Amendments were made in 1992, 2000 and 2008, bringing them closer to international standards.

Recognizing a growing need for Britain and China to cooperate on IPR protection amid increasing economic ties, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao agreed a symposium was needed at their meeting in London in June.

But an opinion article published on Wednesday in the British newspaper The Times caused a stir.

In the commentary, James Dyson, founder of the British technology company Dyson Ltd, claimed that his company has been waiting for three years for a patent to be approved in China, "compared with nine months for domestic applicants".

Dyson won a case in January against the Chinese company Yongkang Yixuan for design infringement. Dyson claims it is also currently pursuing 15 patent disputes in China.

"Dyson's case represents a small minority. The feedback we receive from most Western businesses has been very positive," said Tian, adding that Dyson's claim of patent approval discrimination against foreign firms is untrue, because processing time for all companies requires a minimum of 18 months.

Since its establishment, SIPO has received a total of 1.07 million patent applications from foreign companies, the majority of which are submitted by developed economies. While the first 500,000 patents took 20 years to accumulate, the rest took only 5 years.

The United Kingdom and China, who both "have plenty of innovation must have good and reliable trade underpinned by proper intellectual property rules", said Lord Howell of Guilford, minister of state at Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

"Maybe not all of (the Western media's criticism of China's IPR protection) is justified, but there are certain areas where I think everyone, including the Chinese government, recognizes that there can be improvement," he said.

To assist British businesses with IPR-related issues in China, Britain will dispatch its first IPR attache to China on Dec 14. Tom Duke, the appointed attache, is the former head of the IP Centre at the European Union Chamber of Commerce in South Korea.

Tian welcomed the announcement, adding that China will continue to improve protection of intellectual property.

Baroness Wilcox, Britain's Parliamentary under-secretary for business, innovation and skills, said that the announcement shows that the British government "is listening and acting on the intellectual property concerns being raised by UK businesses".

Data from the World Intellectual Property Office shows 12,337 patent applications filed in 2010 came from China, an increase of 56.2 percent compared with 2009. That figure ranks China fourth in patent applications after the United States, Japan and Germany.

"The dramatic increase in registration of IPR in China in recent years shows that innovative Chinese companies and individuals have begun to recognize the value of intellectual property," said Wilcox.

China Daily

(China Daily 12/10/2011 page7)