The protection of intellectual property rights has become one of China’s major goals, and new protection mechanisms have taken shape, writes Richard Li

It can be said that effective protection of intellectual property (IP) is the cornerstone of modern economic development, and with the continuous development of China’s economy, the establishment of an effective IP protection mechanism has become one of the key tasks of the central government. In this regard, the state has already made some heavyweight moves, and new protection mechanisms have already taken shape in China.

The State Council Institutional Reform Plan, published on 13 March 2018, proposes the restructuring of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), as well as the integration of the duties of the current SIPO, the trademark administration duties of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) and the designation of origin and geographical indication administration duties of the State’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

“As, after the restructuring, patents, trademarks, designations of origin and geographical indications will all fall under the administration of the [SIPO], there will be greater consistency in law enforcement standards,” says Helen Cheng, a partner at Zhong Lun Law Firm in Shanghai.

“Second, trademarks and patents involve a large number of administrative approval procedures, which were formerly subject to the administration of two different authorities, so in terms of means and efficiency of administration, there is sure to be a difference. With unification under one authority, the efficiency of administration will greatly increase.”

The reorganized SIPO will fall under the authority of the State Administration for Market Regulation (another new authority created during the recent institutional reorganization). Cheng contends that this type of arrangement signifies that “what are commonly known as fake and shoddy goods, counterfeit registered trademarks, passed off patents, etc., will all be overseen under a single comprehensive market regulatory law enforcement environment, which will not only help in avoiding overlapping law enforcement but will also be helpful in unifying law enforcement standards”.

In February 2018, the State Council issued the Opinions on Several Issues Concerning Strengthening Reform and Innovation in the Intellectual Property Adjudication Field, with reforms in intellectual property adjudication including improving the litigation system, strengthening development of the court system, strengthening the selection and fostering of adjudication talent, etc. Guo Xiaojun, deputy director of the business development department of CCPIT Patent and Trademark Law Office in Beijing, says that the opinions are a comprehensive plan for the reform of intellectual property adjudication, and will have a strong positive effect on strengthening the protection of IP.

Zhang Hui, a partner at ZY Partners in Beijing, says the expression of such specific opinions on IP protection at the central government level “truly is all to the fortune of China’s IP circles, and is of major significance for strengthening foreign investors’ confidence in investing in China and stimulating endogenous innovation by Chinese enterprises”.


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