Attached are the comments of the American Bar Association Sections on International Law and Antitrust Law on the proposed draft revisions of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law (AUCL) as well as comments of the Global Antitrust Institute of George Mason University.
The ABA’s comments are comprehensive – addressing IP issues (including trade secret and trade dress), advertising law, competition law issues and commercial bribery. GAI’s comments are focused on the interface between the AUCL and the Antimonopoly Law.
Regarding the overlap with the AML, the GAI advocates that “any provisions in the AUCL that relate to conduct covered by traditional antitrust laws, or conduct covered by China’s Anti-Monopoly Law, be either omitted entirely or revised to limit liability to situations when there is substantial evidence of harm to competition. … The AUCL should be implemented in a manner consistent with these objectives of competition policy.” The same argument might be applied to other laws in China, such as Section 329 of the contract law, which deals with monopolization of technology. In fact, China has a long history of industrial policy regulation of competition, much of which was enacted prior to China’s antimonopoly law.
Neither set of comments fully addresses a core concern of the proponents of this draft, “that the administrative law enforcement is dispersed, that law enforcement standard is not unified, that the legal responsibility system is not perfect, and that the punishment is too lenient.” Prior experience of administrative trade secret enforcement of the AUCL has shown that foreigners have not been a significant beneficiary, despite high level political attention paid to increased trade secret protection. In the trademark context, SAIC’s foreign-related docket is several multiples of all foreign-related civil IP cases. Increased administrative enforcement authorities raise several complicated concerns: will these authorities be used fairly on behalf of Chinese and foreigners alike, will trade secrets be protected by administrative agencies, are the courts better situated to adjudicate the various divergent issues, what priority will AUCL enforcement assume in SAIC’s vast bureaucracy, how will these expanded authorities be coordinated with criminal law enforcement and the courts, etc.
Update of March 16, 2017: Attached are the Comments of the American Intellectual Property Law Association.