China's State Council promulgated a national
intellectual property strategy . In the policy document there is
a lot of talk about doing everything more efficient and more
effective. Great, but how to achieve these laudable goals?
Over the last two decades, and especially around the time China
ascended to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001, China
impressively improved its system of IP protection and enforcement.
However, it's aspirations to make the enforcement "hard as
steel and definitely not soft as bean curd" as China's
premier Wen Jiaobao aspired for in 2006 , have not yet
materialised. In the so called Compendium of China's National
Intellectual Property Strategy , an extensive list of
aspirations and measures, China is vowing to develop itself into a
country with a relatively higher level of intellectual property
right creation, utilisation, protection and administration by
So what exactly is a national IP strategy? Are all desired goals
and commitments in there? What is missing? And how to achieve the
goals set out in the strategy?
What is a national IP strategy?
National IP strategies are en vogue. The World Intellectual
Property Organisation (WIPO) has gathered the summary of the
national IP strategies of 21 countries, plus the African Union and
the European Union . WIPO's definition of a national IP
strategy is: "a set of measures formulated and implemented by
a government to encourage and facilitate effective creation,
development and management of intellectual property."
Professor Daniel Gervais  points out to the fact that to make a
proper policy analysis is impossible or inherently unreliable,
because theoretical models are inadequate or valid empirical data
unavailable. Despite this correct observation the promulgation of a
national IP strategy can clarify common goals. In this case the
national IP strategy is a product of the National Working Group for
IPR, made up of 13 officials from 12 IP-related agencies and
ministries, including the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the State
Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), Customs, the Supreme
People's Court and the State Administration for Industry and
Commerce (SAIC) . So the commitments set in the national IP
strategy will be broadly embraced, which increases its chances to
What stands out in the national IP strategy?
Paragraph 13, 14 and 15 give the contours of strengthening IPRs
protection, preventing abuses of IPRs and fostering a culture of
IPRs. After that is becomes more interesting, because the more
specific tasks are announced. The key industry sectors where China
wants to obtain strategic patents are given in paragraph 16. They
include: biology, medicine, information, new materials, advanced
manufacturing, new energy, oceanography, resources, environmental
protection, modern agriculture, modern transportation, aeronautics
and astronautics. It is safe to predict that one can expect a lot
of patent activities in China in these industry sectors.
Paragraph 17 is about setting technology standards. Chinese
national standards, such as AVS in the audio-visual industry ,
the Chinese version of the RFID standard  or the TD-SCMDA in the
telecoms industry  have a chance of developing into de facto
international standards, because of China's growing economical
significance in the world.
Paragraph 19 deals with patent examination. It is clear that
patent quality in China has enough room for improvement . In
the document one cannot find surprising new strategies for
trademarks or copyright protection and enforcement. "Stealing
trade secrets it to be severely punished according with law",
paragraph 29 stipulates. But as we will see below, sometimes this
bland language is a prelude to concrete change, although it is...