April 26 is International IP day, and in anticipation of the day, Chinese state agencies are announcing plans for intellectual property, releasing statistics, and holding conferences. The activities during this month are key to analyzing the past year’s performance, and to understand those areas where China will be placing a special emphasis for this year.
On April 10, 2012, China’s State Intellectual Property Office held a press conference to publish the Annual Strategy and Plans of Implementation for Intellectual Property 2012. This is an interagency document, which reflects input from all key IP agencies, as well as the courts. The plan shows that SIPO will continue to have a key role in such coordination efforts, despite the re-creation of an interagency leading group on IP at the State Council in 2011.
There are ninety measures outlined in 8 different areas; we will discuss notable highlights. There are numerous enforcement related proposals such as operation “bright sword” “亮剑行动”, which will involve the Ministry of Public Security in efforts on anti-counterfeiting goods and IPRs infringement (para. 31). This is similar to criminal IP campaigns in the past. There is also an effort to improve trade dress protection and trade name protection, which suffer from continuing legal uncertainties due to requirements that trade dress packaging can only attach to packaging of famous products (para. 34)
Many of the proposals are in response to initiatives from foreign governments and industry, such as efforts to improve patent and trademark quality, including addressing “abnormal” patents (para. 5). China will continue to develop “high level” international exchanges (para 84). Efforts to improve the quality and engagement of IP-related services, including and especially between IP lawyers (para 76) which will also be a key element of the forthcoming Federal Circuit Bar Association/China law Society program in May 2012, with the cooperation of China’s Supreme People’s Court, the CAFC and others.
There are also efforts geared toward Chinese domestic enterprises. The Ministry of Commerce will continue to be involved in helping Chinese companies who are facing litigation overseas (para. 79). MIIT will continue to provide strategic patent analysis for Chinese companies (para. 64). There is also a continued focus on developing combined civil, criminal and administrative courts in IP (para. 42). Propaganda and education efforts will continue to play a key role, including improving elementary school education on IP (para. 85).
There are also efforts to ensure that IP officials and activities are reflected more broadly on a national level, such as those measures based on recommendations of leading IP officials and academics for “Excellent Legal Talent Education and Training Programs”, and for talented students with high value IP knowledge to return from overseas to participate in economic development in China (Section 8 generally; paras. 87, 89).
The plan also discusses the revision of copyright law, which is now in the process of soliciting comment: complete the “Copyright Law” revision work, specifically with respect to: the scope and classification of key works, the content of copyright related rights, ownership of copyright, fair use, recognition of copyright registrations, protection of the rights of broadcasters, standards for compensation for remedies for infringement, and other rules-related changes and completion.” Interestingly, this section contains no reference to the State Council, only the NCA completing its drafting work (para. 27).
In separate news: according to the report from Xinhua News Agency, the Trademark law, which is currently under revision is expected to be completed at the end of 2012, Once enacted, the law which is expected to simplify and improve procedures (including a “multiclass registration” application), strengthen the protection of Trademarks, and provide rights-holders with better service. In addition, at the recent Fordham China IP Conference, Chinese IPR Attaché Chen Fuli announced the launch of the new MofCOM website http://www.ipraction.cn/. The Chinese language at the domain announces that it is the “Website for Chinese Work In Striking Against Infringement and Counterfeit/Substandard Goods”, and was launched April 9.