Upcoming PTO Program on Sports Broadcasting

USPTO and China’s National Copyright Administration are co-sponsoring a program on IP (copyright) protection for sports broadcasts, an issue that has been under discussion at least since the Beijing Olympics (2008).  Here is the  announcement and a draft agenda.

The program will be held June 23, 2017 in Beijing.  Contact jia.liu@trade.gov for further information and registration.

Vringo’s Litigation with ZTE: The Continuing Saga…

Vringo’s NDA dispute with ZTE has been previously noted in this blog.  The case in the Southern District of New York involved violation of a Non-Disclosure Agreement by alleging revealing confidential materials without authorization to China’s antitrust enforcers.  Vringo’s general counsel claimed at that time that he could not come to the United States due to an investigation involving ZTE’s violations of US export control laws. ZTE was under threat of sanctions due to violations of the NDA and other conduct.

Since the time of the global settlement between Vringo and ZTE in late 2015, ZTE entered into a settlement with the Department of Justice over violations of US export control laws (March 2017), including claims of obstruction of justice and making of false statement to federal investigators. A fine of 1.19 billion dollars was imposed, making it the largest fine for export controls in US history.  ZTE’s actions included use of shell companies and internal corporate structures designed to destroy or conceal information, including punishment of whistleblowers.  The controlled exports involved Iran and North Korea.

In the latest development, ZTE’s US-based lawyers have now been hit with a law suit by one of its employees, claiming that King & Spaulding fired him because of “wrongful termination of his employment in violation of the implied-in-law obligation of a law firm to refrain from erecting or countenancing disincentives to compliance with the core rules of professional conduct.”  The complaint relies in part on hearing transcripts, including the following where Judge Kaplan stated to Mr. Straus, ZTE’s counsel:

“I see obstruction all over the place, not in a technical obstruction of justice criminal case sense, but obstruction of legitimate discovery, and I am not going to stand for it for much longer.”  ZTE Matter, Hearing Tr. (Doc. No. 143) at 13:2-25.

The plaintiff David Joffe, is represented by Andrew Moskowitz.  The complaint, filed May 8, 2017, is attached.

CFDA’s New Policies to Promote IP and Innovation in the Phama Section

As noted previously in this blog, the death of patent linkage which had been heralded by draft Drug Registration Rules appears to be premature.  In fact, the China Food and Drug Administration has stated that it is interested in developing a more robust patent linkage system.  On May 12, 2017, the CFDA published a draft policy announcement soliciting public comment on developing a more  IP environment for innovative drugs, including more robust patent linkage and addressing other areas, such as data exclusivity.

Patent linkage provides a “linkage” between pharmaceutical regulatory approvals and patent infringement, whereby regulatory approval is denied until the relevant patent is expired or determined to be invalid or not infringed.  A linkage system for a country like China would provide greater stability in patent enforcement for both innovators and generics, by insuring that innovators are amply protected by their innovation, and generic companies are afforded opportunities to seek regulatory approval based on proof that a patent that might otherwise prevent their entry into market is invalid or not infringed by the generic companies’ product.  The US experience with Hatch Waxman, which established our patent linkage system is that it has, in the words of former USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Rea helped “ generics account[]for 75 percent of all prescribed drugs, saving consumers and society more than $1 trillion over the last 10 years”.

This draft policy also contemplates additional improvements on data exclusivity, protecting confidential information in its procedures and developing what appears to be an “Orange Book” type system for disclosing relevant patents, as well as the periods for data exclusivity in new pharmaceutical marketing approval applications.

Providing enhanced data exclusivity protection appears to be an effort to implement a 2012 JCCT commitment regarding what constitutes a “new chemical entity” for purposes of regulatory data protection.  Certain foreign countries, such as Chile, provide data exclusivity within a window of overseas product launch, which this draft appears to borrow from to the extent of a commensurate reduction of the period of data exclusivity based on delays in introducing novel pharmaceutical products beyond a one year window into China. The draft thereby forces the hand of innovators to introduce their product expeditiously into the Chinese market.

Additional protection of confidential information in government proceedings appear to be consistent with proposed amendments to China’s Anti Unfair Competition Law and JCCT commitments.   In addition, the enhanced protection for data exclusivity is also consistent with proposed changes in the AUCL that remove the “practical applicability” requirement which by law would deny trade secret protection to experimental failures.

The draft policy does not discuss how the courts might handle data exclusivity or infringement issues, including the role of patent administrative agencies, or other aspects related to determinations of infringement that affect marketing approvals. To fully implement these policies, changes would likely need to be made in a number of laws or regulations, as well as judicial practices.  As an example, China’s patent law made need to require that a request for marketing approval would need to constitute infringement of an innovator’s patents. It is also unclear to me what courts may have jurisdiction over these matters, and if there are administrative and/or civil remedies to be made available for the various obligations that these policies propose.

Attached is a  rough, draft translation of CFDA Bulletin No. 55.  Also attached is a translation by Allen & Overy.  Comments on this policy document are due by May 25 although the deadline for consultations is June 10.

All told, the draft shows an increased interest by CFDA in IP issues  in one of the most important markets in the world.  Nonetheless, as David Shen and Yijun Ge of Allen & Overy’s Shanghai office point out in their recent posting, another trend balanced against improved patent protection is generic consistency in pharmaceutical approvals.  This is also part of the drug approval reform which now mandates adherence to bioequivalence with an innovator’s approved drug, rather than previous procedures which required conformity to a national standard.  Thus, according to these authors, while an effective patent linkage system would strengthen overall patent protection, changes in bioequivalence requirements could also result in lowering the price of off-patent drugs through  different means.  As they point out: “most people believe that they [generics] will directly compete with off-patent drugs during the tendering process, without the current protection of “patented” status for the latter. “

In another development, exactly one week before this important CFDA policy document was released, the World Health Organization released its report  “ China Policies to Promote Local Production of Pharmaceutical Products and Protect Public Health” (May 5, 2017).  The IP chapter of this apparently unrelated report focuses on technology transfer (Bayh-Dole), genetic resources, compulsory licensing, data exclusivity, and the need to improve domestic patent policy.  The introduction views patents as efforts to “monopoliz[e]” medicine, rather than (in my view) of taking a more pro-competition stance of recognizing that patents provide incentives to innovation and not necessarily monopolies and policies such as patent linkage strike a balance between generics and innovative companies to insure stability and competition in the market place.   In this sense, the report does not appear to anticipate the important new CFDA policy discussed above.  The words “patent linkage” do not appear in the IP section of this report, although the report does reference in an introductory footnote the “Guiding Opinions for Promoting Healthy Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry” (March 11 2016) which has a goal that generics are launched for 90 percent of drugs with expired patents by 2020.  This could be read to infer that generics are not launched when infringement has been determined, such as according to these proposed CFDA linkage policies.   In addition, the report does not consider issues the importance of post filing supplementation of data for China’s innovative industries and the role of China’s innovative companies in promoting reforms that improve IP.

Please provide any comments or suggestions to improve the draft translation or these personal observations.

Updates: afternoon of May 14, 2017 and morning of May 17, 2017.

SPC Puts National Appellate IP Court On Its Agenda

At an IP symposium held this Wednesday, May 10, 2017 in Chengdu, it was revealed by a senior Chinese academic (Prof. Wu Handong)  in response to a question raised by former Chief Judge Randall Rader, than the Supreme People’s Court has decided to recommend to the National People’s Congress that China should establish a national appellate IP court, similar to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  Prof. Wu also noted that this court would be in addition to new intermediate level IP courts being established in Chengdu, Nanjing, Suzhou and Wuhan and would be part of the recommendations regarding continuation and expansion of the existing (and successful, in my opinion) IP court experiments in China (Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou).  The new Court’s jurisdiction, if approved by the NPC, would be similar to that of the existing specialized IP courts, and would focus on technology-related IP issues.  Prof. Wu noted that the court would likely be a circuit court that would be based in Beijing.  He also said  that he would present Judge Rader’s views supporting a national appellate IP court to the SPC for inclusion in its recommendations to the NPC.  Prof. Wu’s comments drew applause from the audience.

In  separate developments, Chengdu officials noted that it had received approval from the State Council to conduct a trial experiment in combined local administration of IP issues, where patent, trademark, copyright and other IP-related agencies would be combined.  This effort is intended to extend beyond the long standing “Market Supervision Administration” experiment in Shenzhen, which combines some IP administration enforcement agencies.  Chengdu would thus be conducting two significant experiments in IP protection next year – one on IP administration and another in establishing an intermediate-level IP court.

The discussions occurred at the 2017 Chengdu Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fair.

Fordham’s China IP Module (NYC), China IP Road Shows (Dallas and Houston) & Mandarin Intro to IP (Houston)

The USPTO in conjunction with its Dallas regional office, the United States Commercial Service and other partners is offering two seminars about protecting your IP in China and another seminar discussing IP basics in Chinese (Guoyu/Putonghua).  These  three events are free and open to the public, but registration is required and seating is limited. 

Tuesday, May 2: Lone Star Strategies for IP in China, What Texas Companies Need to Know Now in Dallas, TX

Belo Mansion/ 2101 Ross Ave. / Dallas, TX 75201 / 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM CT

Registration: https://emenuapps.ita.doc.gov/ePublic/event/editWebReg.do?SmartCode=7Q9Z

Registration Deadline is April 28.

Thursday, May 4: Mandarin Language Intro to IP in Houston, TX

GE Oil and Gas / 4424 W. Sam Houston Pkwy North / Room 108 (1st Floor) / Houston, TX 77041 / 1:00 – 5:30 PM CT

Registration: https://mandarin-introduction-ip.eventbrite.com

Following the event is a reception from 5:30 – 6:30 PM CT.

 Friday, May 5: Lone Star Strategies for IP in China, What Texas Companies Need to Know Now in Houston, TX

Bracewell LLP / 711 Louisiana Street / Suite 2300 / Houston, TX 77002 / 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM CT

Registration: https://info.bracewelllaw.com/38/1060/compose-email/uspto-ip-in-china-05-05-fw.asp?sid=blankform (Note that this registration may be temporarily down).

Further contact: USPTO – Texas Regional Office 469-295-9000

Also of interest, Fordham’s annual IP conference in NYC will host a China IP session in its opening plenary on Thursday, April 20.  Speakers include myself, David Kappos,  Prof. Peter Yu, fellow blogger Erick Robinson (Beijing East IP Ltd.),  Parker Zhang (Assistant General Counsel, Baidu) and others.  See the IP Institute’s website for further details (http://fordhamipinstitute.com/).

 

 

 

 

Upcoming China IP Program with the Boston Bar

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Boston Bar Association and the U.S. Commercial Service for Massachusetts are bringing together thought leaders and policy makers on China IP issues from U.S. Government, academics to discuss China IP issues on April 18, 2017.  Here is the flyer of the Boston Bar China IP Program.

The Boston event is part of the U.S. PTO China team’s nationwide efforts to help U.S. businesses and inventors understand how they can obtain and enforce IP rights in China. Registration including breakfast and lunch is $25.00. The program lasts from 8 AM to 1 PM, and there are optional consultations with industry at the Commerce Department’s offices in Boston immediately following the program.  Prof. Mark Wu of Harvard Law School is the keynote speaker.

The next programs in this series will be in Dallas and Houston.

Stay tuned…

 

GAI’s Comments on AUCL

Ahead of schedule, George Mason University’s Global Antitrust Institute (“GAI”) has prepared its comments on the NPC’s proposed revisions to the Anti-Unfair Competition Law, available here. 

GAI commended the National People’s Congress for deleting Article 6 on abuse of superior bargaining position and recommended that any provisions that relate to conduct covered by China’s Anti-Monopoly Law (AML) be omitted entirely. GAI also strongly urged that Article 11 (which provides that “[b]usiness operators selling goods must not bundle the sale of goods against buyers’ wishes, and must not attach other unreasonable conditions”) be omitted in its entirety, as such conduct is already covered by Article 17(5) of the AML or at the very least, Article 11 should be revised to adopt an effects-based approach.

In my opinion, the argument that the AUCL shouldn’t duplicate the AML can also be said of other laws in China, notably the Technology Import / Export Regulations and Article 329 of the Contract Law regarding monopolization of technology.  Other laws, such as the Pricing Law also have a strong overlap with the AML, particularly as administered by NDRC. 

GAI’s comments on a prior State Council Legislative Affairs Office draft, along with the comments of the American Bar Association and American Intellectual Property Law Institute are available through this link.

I hope to post the comments of other organizations on the AUCL on this blog in the future. If you would like your organization’s comments to be considered for distributing here, please send your comments to me at: chinaipr@yahoo.com.