In late 2010, the Chinese government launched a new national campaign to crack down on violations of intellectual property rights (IPRs) and on the production and distribution of fake and shoddy products. In particular, the campaign is directed towards targeting pirated publications, software products, DVDs, designs and other products with IPRs, as well as violations of registered trademarks and patents, both at the production and distribution levels.
The campaign is also focused on decreasing IPR violations online, targeting Internet piracy and the sale of pirated and fake goods over the Internet. The Chinese government has indicated that the campaign will also enhance China’s scrutiny over the import and export of fake goods and mete out stern punishment to businesses involved in the import and export of such goods. This is, obviously, a small step toward confronting a much larger problem in a booming economy, but it’s an important step that signals the Chinese government’s increasing resolve to address IP issues.
The Chinese government is now in the midst of this campaign, and it was recently reported by the Chinese Minister for Commerce, Chen Deming, that the campaign has so far resulted in the report of 16,036 cases of infringement and counterfeiting, the confiscation of 98.77 million yuan (14.98 million U.S. dollars), and the arrests of 4,157 suspects involving cases that were worth 2.3 billion yuan. Moreover, in the first two months of the campaign, China’s procurators had indicted 598 suspects in 330 cases and the courts had sentenced 303 criminals to prison in 221 legal cases. The Minister was keen to stress that for foreign executives’ concerns about the short-term effect of the special campaign, “The efforts would not be short-lived” and the authorities would review and reassess the experience and lesson of the crackdown and roll out a long-term mechanism to protect intellectual property rights.
All this comes at a time when China is itself experiencing a huge leap in the number of foreign and domestic applications to secure IPRs. For example, China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) reported last month that it had received over 1.2 million patent applications and approved 814,825 requests among them last year, with the application number being over 25 percent more than that in 2009. In addition, it has been reported by the national patent watchdog in China that the number of patents granted in China last year was 40 percent higher than in 2009.
It is widely believed that the campaign could provide some much needed help to businesses struggling with intellectual property (“IP”) infringement in China.
Baxter IP patent attorney clients regularly file patent and trade mark applications in China and as such, if you are interested in pursuing protection in China then please do contact us for advice.