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China created court to enforce IP cases
Updated: 2006-03-10 15:06

China has created a special court to prosecute product piracy cases, a government spokesman said Friday, amid demands for Beijing to step up action against rampant illegal copying of movies, music, software and other goods.

The supreme court has named a Judicial Court of Intellectual Property to handle such cases nationwide, court spokesman Sun Huapu said at a news conference held during the annual meeting of China's parliament.

China is regarded as the world's top producer of illegally copied goods, and the United States and other trading partners say the problem is getting worse despite repeated government crackdowns.

Last year China's courts convicted 741 people in 505 criminal product piracy cases, Sun said. He didn't say what penalties they received or give figures for the previous year.

Courts handled 16,453 civil cases of intellectual property rights violations in 2005, up more than 20 percent from the previous year, Sun said.

US officials say Chinese copying of goods such as software, golf clubs, Hollywood movies and heart medications costs legitimate producers worldwide up to US$50 billion (euro40 billion) a year in lost potential sales.

Jiang Zhipei, a supreme court judge who handles product piracy cases, defended China's enforcement measures and called on foreign companies to help get cases to court.

"If we don't get them into the courts, we can't judge them," he said.

Some 95 percent of product piracy cases involve violations against Chinese companies, with only about 5 percent stemming from complaints from foreign companies, Jiang said.

"So it's a strange phenomenon that foreign governments, and some US congressmen, have made very strong complaints about this," he said.

Sun said authorities have launched a Web site to publicize product piracy cases - possibly a strategy to use the threat of public shaming to deter pirates.

"We shall reform and perfect the legal system and work mechanism relating to intellectual property," he said, without giving details of other planned changes.

Pirated goods are readily available in shops throughout the country despite repeated crackdowns.

A US trade envoy who visited China this month said the problem was getting worse.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the changes announced by Sun would satisfy Washington's demands.

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