Building the Ladder: China’s Patent System Over the Past 30 Years

Prof. Peter Yu has written a useful summary of China’s patent developments over the past 30 years and before called “Building the Ladder: Three Decades of Development of the Chinese Patent System,” which is available for download at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2159011.  

What I especially like about Peter’s paper is his efforts to integrate different modalities of engaging China, from USTR-driven “301” type critiques, to integrating China into the community of the five largest patent offices of the world (the “IP-5”), as well as the late Qing period and earlier.

Peter tends to be more supportive of China’s IP developments than me.  I tend to see China’s challenges as a reflection of state-planning type approaches to intellectual property, which would be resolvable if China had a softer hand in trying to manage the expectations of private rights holders.    For Peter, tolerance, patience and acknowledgement of developmental challenges are critical to understanding China today.

However, I also share with Peter an interest in observing whether China “crossing-over” like Japan and Korea to a more IPR-protective society, and what those consequences might be.  Although we frequently disagree outwardly, I think it is fair to say we both share an interest in insuring that China’s IP developments reflect an overall commitment to rule of law, and believe that this moment in time may either be a “turning point” where China might evolve into a true “stakeholder” in the IP system (my words), or a “crossing over” point (Peter’s).

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