Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Plenum focuses on intellectual property rights

By David Llewelyn (China Daily) Updated: 2013-11-28 07:22

Judicial and administrative procedures, too, were introduced and refined to ensure the effective and efficient enforcement of IPR. In 1992, the Supreme People's Court set up a special IPR division. By 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization, there was in place a modern system of laws in the country for the protection of IPR.

Further progress was made in the past decade - laws have been improved and special divisions set up in some trial courts in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai to deal with the increasing number of IPR disputes.

Although much progress has been made, there is still a long way to go before IPR owners in China can feel comfortable that their efforts and investments in developing creative and innovative products and services will be protected and rewarded. The focus of China's economy is shifting inexorably from agriculture and low-cost manufacturing to areas in which innovation and creativity play a very important role - moving from imitator to innovator and copier to creator. Therefore, protection of the resulting IPR, generated by the private sector in particular, will be of critical importance to the country's future prosperity.

As has been recognized in the National IPR Strategy, issued by the State In tellectual Property Office in 2008, there is a need to educate businesspeople about the importance of IPR and to encourage innovation in all sectors of the economy, particularly in the field of science and technology where research and development products need to be protected by patents, copyrights and trademarks.

All this will take time and a lot of effort.

It is hoped that the focus of the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee on these areas will intensify the drive to ensure that there is quality as well as quantity in the patents submitted to and granted by SIPO, and that IP rights are enforced effectively across China (not just in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou).

Only when this is achieved will small and medium-sized enterprises, State-owned enterprises as well as foreign companies feel confident to invest in innovation and creativity, which the plenum has recognized as critical to the healthy and balanced growth of the Chinese economy and society.

The author is deputy dean of the School of Law at Singapore Management University.

(China Daily 11/28/2013 page11)

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