Intellectual property in China

US ignored Beijing’s gains in intellectual property protection, Chinese watchdog says

Head of revamped agency says China is paying more for foreign IP and has reinforced the country’s laws

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2018, 8:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2018, 2:03pm

Beijing has hit back at Washington over an investigation into China’s intellectual property practices, saying the United States failed to take China’s advances in IP protections into account.

Shen Changyu, head of China’s revamped State Intellectual Property Office, made the remarks on Tuesday in response to a US investigation under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which prompted Washington to propose a 25 per cent tariff on about 1,300 industrial technology, transport and medical imports from China.

“We think that the outcomes of so-called 301 investigation by the US ignored the objective fact that China has strengthened its protection on intellectual property,” Shen said.

He said amendments to China’s anti-unfair competition law would bolster protection foreign companies’ technology.

Shen also said China spent over US$28.6 billion for the rights to use foreign technology last year, with the amount paid to the United States rising 14 per cent year on year.

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Foreign companies have long complained about China’s violations of intellectual property rights, from counterfeiting famous brands and stealing trade secrets to forcing offshore companies to share technology as a condition for doing business in China.

At the Boao Forum for Asia earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the newly restructured State Intellectual Property Office would help to enforce the law on intellectual property protection and to increase the price paid for violations.

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“We encourage normal technological exchange between Chinese and foreign companies, and we protect the intellectual property rights of the companies in China,” Xi said. 

“At the same time, we hope foreign governments can also strengthen protection of Chinese companies’ intellectual property rights.” 

Shen said the office was responsible for implementing China’s overall strategy on intellectual property and law enforcement, including the approval and arbitration of patent, trademark and appellation of origin disputes.

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The office would also be in charge of “external negotiations” on intellectual property and would give equal treatment to both domestic and foreign companies, regardless of size or ownership, he said.

Earlier this month, China’s commerce ministry said it had initiated a World Trade Organisation dispute procedure against the US 301 investigation.

It also said it would impose new tariffs on US$50 billion worth of US products ranging from cars to soybeans and whisky, countering a US announcement of tariffs on an estimated US$50 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Renmin University intellectual property law professor Jin Haijun said the new office could play a supporting role in handling the US-China trade conflict.

“The State Intellectual Property Office will be working with the commerce ministry which is coordinating the overall efforts [in handling trade disputes],” Jin said.