Action Plan for Further Implementation of the National IP Strategy (2014-2020) Approved

According to a Chinese Government website, on  December 29, the State Council reviewed and approved the Action Plan for Further Implementation of the National IP Strategy (2014-2020) (Action Plan). The Outline of the National IP Strategy (NIPS) had been implemented for 6 years.  Premier Li Keqiang, and SIPO Commissioner Shen are quoted in the this brief summary.

Chinese authorities have pointed to three key aspects of the NIPS Action Plan:

A.  First, to “Strive to Build A Strong IPR Country”  (努力建设知识产权强国).

B.  To improve IP utilization and protection (知识产权运用和保护).

C.  Practical new steps are to be announced, including plans to promote the development of IP intensive industries (知识产权密集型产业发展).  This  includes greater coordination amongst various branches of national and local government.  Interestingly, and perhaps of greater concern, it also includes “strengthening patent pilot projects,  joint utilization of patents and collective management of patents… to strengthen the competitive advantages of industries.” (强化专利导航、专利协同运用、专利集群管理等工作…增强产业竞争优势).

Here is how I read the tea leaves on this announcement:

First, the references to China becoming an IP “strong country” , and not merely an IP “big country” is a new concept in the NIPS, and likely reflects the observations and approaches of former Commissioner Tian Lipu.  In fact, many observers believe that too much patenting, particularly patenting of a low quality, can be harmful to innovation. I have often noted in this blog that patent quality is a continuing negative side effect of China’s metric-driven approaches to innovation.  In addition, innovation is largely a local phenomenon – China’s efforts to become a strong innovative country this time will also include programs to make strong IP provinces and cities in China.

Second, the reference to IP utilization directly quotes the negotiated language of the Third Plenum and its commitment to “Strengthen the Utilization and Protection of IP” (加 强知识产权的运用和保护).  This was also something that former Commissioner Tian discussed as a positive outcome of that meeting.

Third, the reference to IP intensive industries is new to China’s strategic planning, and, as noted by Commissioner Shen, reflects the influence of the influential US government  2012 report on Intellectual Property and the US Economy.   Reference is also made by Commissioner Shen to IP intensive industries being low on resource demands and low polluting.

The legislative basis for the National IP Strategy is the China Science and Technology Promotion Law (Dec 2007).  Article 7 of that law provides that China will establish a NIPS, in order to promote innovation, encourage indigenous innovation (激励自主创新), and raise the utilization protection and management of IP.  This 2007 law was famous for codifying the concept of indigenous innovation, which elicited considerable concern at the time over potential discrimination against the foreign technology community.  This Action Plan introduces several new and useful concepts which, if implemented fairly, will benefit foreign and domestic investors alike.



Changing Times in China’s Hundred Acre Wood

The Walt Disney Company continues to zealously protect its various brands, including Winnie the Pooh.   China Daily reported last month that Disney won a law suit against an apparent trademark squatter.    The mark was reportedly for Winnie the Pooh 威尼熊., registered on garments by Lingxiu Hongri Knitting Garment Factory in Shishi City, Fujian Province.  The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court sustained the revocation of the disputed mark by the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board, which viewed this mark as similar to Disney’s “WINNIE THE POOH”.

Disney and Winnie have had a tough time in China over the years. At the same time by protecting its many valuable rights in a variety of media, Disney has also helped advance the law in many areas, including by bringing cases that have helped pioneer many aspects of copyright and entertainment law.

As Disney gets ready to open a theme park in Shanghai, Disney’s family-oriented brands become even more important.  Imagine if some of the early counterfeiting and piracy had gone unchecked?  One example: for the past decade I used an apparently unauthorized picture of Winnie holding a beer mug in an advertisement for a pub in Beijing to show how harmful counterfeiting can be to a family oriented brand such as Disney.  I am glad to see in Winnie being property protected.