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IPR enforcement 'a win-win'

By Chen Weihua in Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2013-12-06 12:57

Protecting IPR seen as must for China's economic plans

When Mark Cohen, senior counsel at the US Commerce Department's Patent and Trademark Office, asked a group in Washington on Thursday if China had been making progress in recent years in the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), at least 80 percent of the audience raised their hands.

Only a few hands went up when he asked if Chinese IPR protection has experienced a setback or if it had been an up-and-down process.

The several dozen American attendants participating in the China 2013 IPR Overseas Exchanges program in the US included government officials, lawyers, academics and judges. The organizer, China's Ministry of Commerce, fielded a strong team that included experts from all relevant governmental departments, including the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the General Administration of Customs and the National Copyright Administration and the State Intellectual Property Office.

Chen Fuli, the IPR attach at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said China and the US have extensive exchanges in the IPR arena. "Intellectual property is an important element to ensure the healthy development of a bilateral economic relationship," he said, noting that China and the US are each other's second-largest trade partners with bilateral trade approaching $500 billion.

Chen emphasized that protecting IPR is a must for China's economic development and it is especially critical if China wants to become an innovation-driven nation by 2020, transform its economic development model and expand international exchange and cooperation.

China and the US have been holding regular dialogues on IPR protection. The outcome document of 4th China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Washington in July reaffirmed that the two countries would continue to deepen and improve law enforcement cooperation on IPR issues.

The IPR exchanges between the two countries started in the 1980s and a special mechanism was set up in 2004 under the China-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), a high-level governmental consulting system.

Chen believes the decision on deepening reform and expanding opening-up made by the just-concluded Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China means that the Chinese market will be more open and transparent.

Zhang Jing, director of China's National Office for Fighting against Infringement and Counterfeit Products, said China had dealt with 230,000 counterfeit and infringement cases in the first three quarters of this year and rounded up 35,000 suspects. The more than 10,000 people who received court rulings were 3.1 percent more than the same period last year.

"It reflects the concrete progress China has made in law enforcement in its administrative and judicial systems," said Zhang.

China now boasts 52 laws regarding counterfeiting and infringement, and several of them have been amended this year, most notably those covering computer software and copyright enforcement procedures.

Cohen also noted the progress China has made in specialized IP courts.

Cohen believes the work China and the US do together in IPR protection could also have wide implications for the rule of law in China.

"It seems that China is crossing the rule-of-law river by feeling the IP stones," he said.

"Every time a US company enforces its rights in China, it not only benefits ourselves, but also in a small way helps the legal system and economic reforms in China."

He said good IP is good both for the US and China. "That's a win-win," he said.

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