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China steps up protection of intellectual property rights

Updated: Sep 13,2017 4:46 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — Judge Yang Liping’s office is stacked with files, and she even has a supermarket trolley for clerks to bring new dossiers.

She works in the fifth civilian court of Haidian district court in Beijing. The court handles intellectual property rights (IPR) disputes.

“There are just too many cases and no choice. We often have to work overtime,” she said.

“In the first half of this year, the court handled 6,072 IPR-related cases, almost the total amount for last year,” said Yang Dejia, chief of the IPR court. “The IPR court has 25 staff, of which there are nine judges, but our workload continues to balloon. We are busy because Haidian has thousands of high-tech and internet companies.”

Increased awareness of IPR protection has led many to resort to legal means to safeguard their rights. In 2002, there were only 100 cases, but the number has exploded in the last decade.

“China has stepped up protection of IPR in recent years, because it is a necessity for the creative economy, particularly in innovative areas like Haidian,” Yang Dejia said.

According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, the transaction volume of technical contracts in China was 1.1 trillion yuan (about $175 billion) in 2016, beating the 1-trillion yuan mark for the first time.

Eighty percent of transactions occurred in fields such as electronic information, advanced manufacturing, new energy, environmental protection and biomedical industries.

“Intellectual property creates more value now than ever in China. It is a key driving force to the brand-building of Chinese companies,” said Shen Changyu, director of State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) last week at a meeting.

China’s invention patent ownership is expected to increase from 6.3 per 10,000 people in 2015 to 12 per 10,000 in 2020, according to a plan on intellectual property during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), made by the State Council.

Intellectual property royalties earned abroad are expected to rise from $4.44 billion in 2015 to $10 billion in 2020, according to the plan.

In 2016, Chinese courts handled 152,072 IPR cases, up 16.8 percent year on year. Over 3,700 people were arrested and 7,000 were prosecuted, according to a white paper on IPR protection.

“Legal channels have been made more accessible, and public awareness has increased on IPR protection,” said Zhang Gong, deputy director of Haidian district court.

Roger Tu, senior vice president of MiiCs & Partners (Far East), an IP consulting firm, said a crackdown on infringement, and higher penalties had created a healthy climate. The company’s business has increased by 20 percent every year in China.

To meet demands of clients, companies providing services on IPR are booming.

Beijing Chofn Intellectual Property Rights Management and Consulting Company has developed an online system to check logos.

“The system connects with 141 databases worldwide, and a single search takes only 2.5 seconds to see whether certain logos have been used or not,” said Liu Xiaolong, a manager with Chofn.

In late August, the Ministry of Commerce said a special campaign would be organized to crack down on theft of commercial secrets of overseas companies, malicious behavior infringing on logo rights and copyright theft in the internet fields.