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.

 

 

Confronting Chinese Innovation Mercantilism

Interest in and discussion about innovation practices in China continues.  Here’s another upcoming conference, which sounds like it could elicit controversy, from ITIF (the Information Technology and Innovation Forum): “Confronting Chinese Innovation Mercantilism“.  According to the press release “China is unabashedly seeking to favor Chinese-owned firms in order to dominate practically all sectors, especially the higher value-added, innovation-based sectors. Yet, the Washington consensus response can be summed up in one word: patience.”.

A separate stream of discussion in Washington has been on Chinese state-owned enterprises, which ITIF alludes to, including hearings yesterday on Capitol Hill on the role of SOE’s [State Owned Enterprises].  Prof. Curtis Milhaupt from Columbia has also written an excellent paper on this topic describing the organization of SOE’s, but without any strong proscriptive language. Prof. Milhaupt also lectured at Fordham on Feb. 16.

In the long run, there is only way forward on all these issues: informed, principled, and respectful engagement.  It isn’t a simple matter of patience as the ITIF study suggests.  Hopefully serious programs and reports will help us all pursue a reasonable way of engaging China.

The Other Chinese Patent Development: China’s Autumnal Patent “Hook”

It is 2012, and China’s State Intellectual Property Office (“SIPO”) has once again released its end of the year data on patent filings for the year.  While patent data and scientific citation data suggest that China is on the cusp of becoming an innovative economy, there is another trend that has subsisted for several years:  China’s autumnal upward patent “hook.”

As I have remarked in several conferences during the past two to three years, the data suggests that if patents are a surrogate for innovation activity, one of the most significant factors in China’s innovation efforts are the time of the year:  China innovates in the fall.   February, however, appears to be a slow month for creativity, perhaps due to lack of external pressure (government subsidies, quotas), but also due to the hiatus caused by the lunar new year and the 28 day month. Continue reading