Indigenous Innovation in the Chongqing Police Department

The cloud of mystery surrounding Bo Xilai and his former deputy, police chief Wang Lijun continues to loom over the Chinese and western press, with many unresolved questions concerning the circumstances of Wang’s appearance before the US consulate, and the current circumstances of Bo himself. Not many would have expected any discussion of intellectual property to enter the picture. However, Bo himself did have some engagement on IP issues. He was known during his time as Minister of Commerce for taking a strong negotiating position against US pressure on IP matters. In addition, his agency did serve as a point of contact and organizing ministry for a national IPR campaign. When I served in the US Embassy, I had lunch with Bo once, during an Ambassador’s IPR Roundtable, where he showed very little interest in the issue. His speech is briefly described in a Wikileaks cable.

The WSJ, however, today reveals that there were about 150 patents registered under the name Wang Lijun, many of them linked to the Chongqing police force.   What was Wang’s real interest in these patents? One possibility is that Wang was benefiting from local government subsidies for patent applications and grants, which could amount to 4,000 RMB or more per granted patent application, and as much as 20,000 RMB for overseas applications.  While we don’t know the circumstances of his patenting, the subsidies could easily amount to 600,000 RMB or more, depending on the nature of the patents applied for and granted.  Moreover, applying for such patents could also help Chongqing achieved its goals of 3.8 patents per 10,000 people by 2015 (higher than the national goal of 3.3), and was thus an activity that was actively encouraged.

Was Wang, however, in compliance with the spirit of Chongqing’s efforts to promote innovation?  A patent for a red colored raincoat for police officers, such as he obtained, hardly seems innovative.  Indeed, his patents may suggest a very different problem, the creation of low quality patents.  According to Chongqing patent regulations, Chongqing government support was not to be given to individuals or those patenting outside of enterprises, and individuals engaged in such “abnormal” patent application activities, should be given warnings and criticism, while those who committed fraud in obtaining local government support for patents should be punished, including with possible criminal remedies.  Were these “normal” or “abnormal” patent applications?  Perhaps the patent data of Wang LIjun will reveal as much about his ability to innovate as his ability, as the abuse of subsidies for low quality patent filings.

即企业的发明专利申请资助不超过1000元/件,实用新型专利申请资助不超过150元 /件,外观设计专利申请资助不超过150元/件。PCT专利申请资助不超过2000元/件。获得国内发明专利权后 (未委托代理)资助不超过1000元/件,获得国内发明专利权后 (委托代理)资助不超过5000元/件,维持3年以上的国内发明专利权再予以一次性资助,资助额度不超过3000元/件。通过PCT专利申请渠道获得美、 英、德、意、日、法、瑞士专利权的资助不超过20000元/件,获得其他国家专利权的资助不超过10000元/件。

加强对企事业单位、专利代理机构和非职务发明人专利申请行为的管理和监 控,引导其依法申请专利,防范非正常专利申请行为。

The subsidy for industrial invention patents application does not exceed 1000 RMB/piece, subsidy for utility model patent application does not exceed 150 RMB/piece, and subsidy for Design Patents does not exceed 2000 RMB/piece.  Subsidy for PCT patent application does not exceed 2000 RMB /piece. Subsidy for the grant of the invention patent rights in China (without commissioned agent) doesn’t exceed 1,000 RMB/piece; subsidy for the grant of the invention patent in China (with commission agent) does not exceed 20,000. Once a patent has been maintained for 3 years, there will be another subsidy in an amount no more than 3000 RMB/piece. Subsidy for PCT patent applications through the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, France, Switzerland patent funding is no more than 20,000 RMB / piece, in other countries patent funding more than 10,000 yuan / piece.

To guide enterprise and work units, intellecual property agents, and non agents will have the opportunity during annual inspection to verify compliance of patent applications, and prevent them from inappropriate patent applications.

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