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White paper portrays IPR protection progress
Updated: 2005-04-21 10:26

The Information Office of the State Council, China's cabinet, Thursday issued a white paper (read full text)  titled New Progress in China's Protection of Intellectual Property Rights.

The white paper, the second of its kind since 1994, gives a "brief introduction" to and "explanation" of China's efforts and new progress in protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) over the past decade.

The document is intended to "help the international community have a better understanding of the real situation regarding China's IPR protection and make a proper judgment."

The white paper lists China's major progress in protecting IPR as follows:

-- Establishment of a relatively complete system of laws and regulations. Since the 1980s, the state has promulgated and put into effect a number of laws and regulations covering the major contents in IPR protection, including the patent law ,trademark law, and copyright law.

In 2001, around the time when China was admitted into the World Trade Organization (WTO), the country made comprehensive revisions to the laws and regulations regarding IPR protection and their legal interpretation.

The revisions brought the laws and regulations into conformity with the WTO's "Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights" and other international rules on IPR protection.

-- Patent protection. From April 1, 1985, when China's patent law went into effect, to the end of 2004, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) handled 2,284,925 patent applications with an average annual increase of 18.9 percent.

Of these, 1,874,358 were domestic applications, and 410,567 came from other countries, accounting for 82 and 18 percent, respectively.

By the end of 2004, the SIPO had approved 1,255,499 patents. Of these, 1,093,268 were domestic ones, and 162,231 were from other countries, accounting for 87.1 and 12.9 percent of the total number of approved patents, respectively.

-- Trademark protection. In October 2001, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress made revisions to the "Trademark Law" for the second time, thus bringing the relevant provisions of China's "Trademark Law" in line with the principles of WTO's "Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights."

By the end of 2004, China had had 2,240,000 registered trademarks, and meanwhile, 129 countries and regions had had 403,000 trademarks registered in China. This represents almost a 79-fold increase over that in 1979, accounting for 18 percent of the total number of registered trademarks in China.

-- Copyright protection. According to incomplete statistics, from 1995 to 2004, copyright administrative management departmentsat all levels confiscated 350 million pirated copies, accepted 51,368 cases of infringement and resolved 49,983 of them.

In 2004, they accepted 9,691 cases of infringement, resolved 9,497 of them and imposed administrative sanctions on the infringersin 7,986 cases.

"These included the investigation and punishment of two Chineseenterprises that had infringed upon the copyright of the Microsoft Corporation of the United States and other major cases," says the white paper.

-- Protection of audio and video products. Since the 1990s, the publication market supervision authorities and cultural administration authorities have cooperated closely with other relevant departments in making sustained efforts to enforce order in the audio-video market.

According to incomplete statistics, from 1994 to 2004, nine CD duplicating enterprises had their duplication business licenses revoked, and 200 illegal CD production lines were discovered.

-- Protection of new varieties of agricultural and forestry plants. On Oct. 1, 1997, China began implementing the "Regulations on the Protection of New Varieties of Plants," greatly expanding the scope of IPR protection in China.

China has issued and implemented five lists of protected new varieties of agricultural plants and four lists of protected new varieties of forest plants, which cover 119 genera and species, including 41 agricultural plants and 78 forest plants. The numbers are far higher than the minimum numbers required by the "International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants."

-- Customs protection. In September 1994, China began to carry out border protection of IPR. From 1996 to 2004, the Chinese customs ferreted out 4,361 cases of right infringement in import and export, which involved 630 million yuan.

Since 2000, the number of cases discovered by the customs has increased by 30 percent annually. The customs have effectively cracked down on the illegal import and export of right-infringing goods, preserving order at ports, and safeguarding the interests of proprietors.

-- Public security organs act on criminal infringement on IPR. From 2000 to 2004, the Chinese public security organs cracked 5,305 cases of criminal infringement on IPR, which involved nearly 2.2 billion yuan, and arrested 7,100 suspects.

Among them, there were 4,269 cases concerning infringement on the exclusive rights of trademark ownership, which involved 1.18 billion yuan, and 5,564 suspects were arrested. A number of suspects were found guilty of the production and sale of fake or inferior products and illegal business operation, and sentenced accordingly.

-- Judicial protection of IPR. From 2000 to 2004, procuratorial organs at all levels approved the arrests of 2,533 people suspected of criminal IPR infringement, and instituted prosecutions against 2,566 suspects.

"In the future, the Chinese government will continue to earnestly execute its international obligations in this regard, enhance its cooperation with various countries and international organizations with a more active, open attitude, and join hands with them in promoting the establishment of a sound system and environment favorable for IPR protection worldwide," the white paper says.

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