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An Analysis of National Intellectual Property Strategy Implementation


Lu Wei & Shen Hengchao

In the past three years since China promulgated the national intellectual property strategy, the country has scored marked progress in the field of intellectual property thanks to the unified leadership of the State Council and the concerted efforts made by relevant departments and regions. While the capacity for the creation, use, protection and management of intellectual property has expanded, public awareness on intellectual property has become higher. But China still needs to intensify efforts in various spheres of intellectual property, as intellectual property has just been incorporated into the work of various sectors, the scope of protection has been widened, and the implementation of the national intellectual property strategy has just begun. It is suggested that in the 12th Five-Year Plan period, intellectual property strategy implementation should emphasize the integration with industrial development, the improvement of systems and mechanisms, the updating of working methods and the creation of a fine environment.

I. Introduction

The National Intellectual Property Strategic Program (or the strategic program for short) was promulgated by the State Council in June 2008. Its promulgation and implementation has promoted the creation, use, protection and management of intellectual property and enhanced public awareness on intellectual property. As a result, intellectual property has played a growing role in economic, technological, cultural and social development. Over the past three years, China has expanded the capacity for the creation, use, protection and management of intellectual property, though in different degrees. Most of the preliminary goals for the first five years specified in the strategic program can be achieved within the scheduled time.

In general, the capacity enhancement is stronger in the creation of intellectual property than in the use of intellectual property, the quantitative growth of intellectual property is faster than the improvement of quality, the protection of intellectual property is more difficult than the management of intellectual property, and the implementation of policy measures is more emphasized than mechanism design and system reform.

II. Marked Results of Strategy Implementation

In the past three years, China has scored marked progress in the field of intellectual property thanks to the unified leadership of the State Council and the joint efforts made by relevant departments and regions. The quantity of all types of intellectual property has risen rapidly, their quality has somewhat improved. The status of enterprises as intellectual property owners has been consolidated, and intellectual property has played a tangible role in stimulating innovations. The legal system on intellectual property has been further improved, the environment for intellectual property protection has become better, and the rate of public satisfaction has become higher. Public awareness on intellectual property protection has become higher, and the capacity for the use of intellectual property has become stronger. China’s influence has been expanding in intellectual property-related international affairs.

1. The quantity of all types of intellectual property has been rising, with the quantity of the intellectual property accepted, approved and registered growing rapidly.

In 2010, patent applications and trademark registration applications totaled more than 1 million. In particular, trademark registration applications were the highest in the world and invention patent applications surpassed Japan to become the second highest in the world. Internationally, China ranked fourth in terms of international patent applications, second in terms of the growth of Madrid international trademark registration applications, and seventh in terms of the quantity of such applications. From 2007 to 2010, voluntary copyright registrations rose from 134,000 to 376,000, and computer software copyright registration rose from 24,520 to 81,966. During the same period, the farm product variety applications accepted rose from 816 to 1,206, and the farm product variety rights granted rose from 518 to 666. At the same time, new forest plant variety applications rose 45% from 61 to 89.

2. Enterprises have become the main creators and users of intellectual property. The quantity of intellectual property created by them has risen sharply, their capacity to use intellectual property has become higher, and their conversion of intellectual property into productive force has become faster.

From 2007 to 2010, the ratio of patent applications made by enterprises to all domestic patent applications rose 10.2 percentage points to reach 48.7% and the value of registered technology trading contracts rose 39% from 222.6 billion yuan to 309.6 billion yuan. Some enterprises have been ranked among the world’s highest in terms of PCT (international) applications. In 2010, ZTE and Huawei respectively ranked second and fourth in terms of global PCT (international) applications. From 2008 to 2010, patent-hypothecated loans rose 3.89 folds from 1.348 billion yuan to 6.597 billion yuan, trademark-hypothecated loans rose 37.9% from 9.86 billion yuan to 13.6 billion yuan, and copyright-hypothecated loans rose from 6 million yuan in 2007 to 16 billion yuan in 2010.

3. Legislation has been quickened, with most of specified legislative tasks having been fulfilled.

Since the promulgation of the strategic program, the Law on Intangible Cultural Heritage has been enacted and the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Infringement Liability has clearly included copyright, patent right and trademark right into the scope of protection of the legitimate rights and interests of civil entities. The Patent Law, the Implementing Rules for the Patent Law, the Copyright Law and the Regulations on Copyright Hypothecation Registration were all revised. The State Council and the relevant departments have formulated and revised many administrative and departmental regulations. By the first half of 2011, a total of 76 laws and regulations on intellectual property had been formulated and revised.

4. The capacity for intellectual property judicial trial and administrative enforcement has become higher, the judicial protection of intellectual property has been improved, and administrative enforcement has played an active role in intellectual property protection.

The cases handled by people’s courts have covered all legal spheres of intellectual property, including civil, administrative and criminal trials. All related departments have intensified administrative enforcement according to their functions, with higher capacity and better efficiency. While they have strengthened day-to-day enforcement, they have also launched special actions and scored tangible results. Since 2008, China has launched 54 nationwide special actions on intellectual property protection. They include the "blue sky action", the "mountain eagle action", the "thunderbolt action", and the "sky net action". The intensified crackdowns have increased the cost of infringements and decreased the cost of rights protection. In particular, the State Council launched a special action on intellectual property infringements and fake and inferior goods production and selling. Targeted on priority regions and priority sectors, this special action has preliminarily contained rights infringements and the spread of fake and inferior goods, and safeguarded market order for fair competition.

5. The government has been much competent and efficient in intellectual property management.

Since 2008, trademark examination has become much faster. The examination duration has been shortened from 36 months to less than one year, the trial duration for reconsidered cases has been shortened to 12 months, and the trial duration for complex cases has been shortened to 18 months. This has eased domestic and foreign concerns over case stockpiling. During the 11th Five-Year Plan period, the duration of patent examination became slightly shorter, the duration of invention patent examination was stabilized at 24 months, and the duration of utility and novelty examination was shortened from 9 months to 3.5 months. The duration of appearance design patent examination was shortened from 6 months to 3 months, and the duration of patent reconsideration case conclusion and patent nullification announcement were respectively shortened to 14 months and 7 months. An electronic patent application and examination management system has been completed to cover the whole process of patent handling.

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