NDRC, IP and China’s Plans for 2014

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The NDRC released to the public last week its Notice of Its Opinion on Key Tasks on Deepening Economic Reform in 2014 (国务院批转发展改革委关于2014年深化经济体制改革重点任务意见的通知) (dated April 30, 2014, released May 20, 2014) (http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2014-05/20/content_8818.htm).   Although not focused on IP, this Notice does encompass several IP and economic reform issues, and is perhaps more notable for how it says things rather than what it says.  Here are some highlights:

Article 2 calls for changes in government functions.  It is the only article that expressly references IP.  In this article, the NDRC calls for “severely punished swindling, counterfeiting, intellectual property infringement, intentional pollution of the environment, and behavior that is contrary to the principles of fair market competition; establishing a scientific sampling system,  a system for tracing responsibility, an ‘anomalous’ businesses directory and blacklist system, with an emphasis  on controlling problem companies and illegal business  operators.”   The article suggests a continued important role for the State Council Leading Group in fighting IP infringement and substandard products.

Article 4 deals with deepening state owned enterprise, science and other reforms. This article  calls for accelerating China’s scientific and technological innovation to  support and promote industrial structure optimization.  It also calls on China to strengthen the “dominant position of enterprises in technological innovation, encourage enterprises to set up  R & D institutions , lead collaborative manufacturing study and research alliances, increase development funds to support SME’s technological innovation efforts,  give full play to the guiding role of the market for scientific and technological innovation, and to improve and promote the industrialization of scientific and technological achievements…”

In addition this article notes that China will “building an innovative platform to promote the development of strategic emerging industries.”   The following industries area also targeted for further development:  “culture, creativity and design services ,… e-commerce , … the Internet of Things and the Internet .”

Article 6 calls for opening to promote reform and promoting “indigenous brands”.

What is the role of IP in this important document?  The word “innovation” (chuangxin) appears 15 times in a variety of contexts, the word “intellectual property”, only once.  By contrast, rule of law (fazhi) appears 3 times, and environmental protection (huanbao, huanjingbaohu) four times. As a goal oriented document, this may suggest that IP is but one vehicle for China to become more innovative, and that IP is a limited part of economic planning for NDRC. 

Direct word counts can, however, also be misleading indicators.  An agency may also wish to bury its important role in a particular area, in order to show broader consensus.  For example, while NDRC has direct enforcement authority under the antimonopoly law, there is no direct mentioning of the AML in this document,  despite NDRC having taken a more active role in AML matters over the past year.   There are however  general references to the market order and the report discusses the creation of joint research alliances, which are potentially exempt from coverage under China’s Antimonopoly Law (Article 15). 

Overall, the document suggests continued, active intervention / guidance in the market by the Chinese government for economic planning purposes, and that IP is one part of that important project.

(Above is what the document looks like as a world cloud, using Google translate  (via http://www.worldle.net).  The  short translations in this blog however do not necessarily correspond to those in Google translate.)

 

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