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.

 

 

The Back Story on the Third Plenum IPR Language

Former SIPO Commissioner Tian Lipu recently revealed the “legislative history” of the language in the Third Plenum regarding IP, as reflected by former Chief Judge Jiang Zhipei in his chinaiprlaw.cn blog (http://www.chinaiprlaw.cn/file/2014020731400.html).

The original language being discussed was that China would “Implement the National IP Strategy and Strengthen IP Protection.”(“实施知识产权战略,加强知识产权保护”).  This was, indeed the language circulated in August 2013, and did not reflect much change from prior years.  A proposed change in language at that time was “Deepen the National IP Strategy,  Strengthen the Practical Protection of IP.” (“深入实施知识产权战略,切实加强知识产权保护”).

Ultimately, the final language was “Strengthen the Utilization and Protection of IP, Investigate Establishing a Specialized IP Court” (“加 强知识产权的运用和保护,探索建立知识产权法院”).   In the words of former Commissioner Tian, the placement of “utilization” as the first priority was a new development. The language regarding specialized IP courts was inspired by the National IP Strategy (2008) which had originally taken up this issue, and promoted it to reduce local influence and improve national coordination.  However this new language on the courts, according to Tian, supports a next stage of concrete implementation of this proposal.

After the adoption of this proposal, Tian and SIPO were delighted with this language, as they had been concerned that the recent establishment of “too many” High and Intermediate IP tribunals would complicate matters and make it difficult to establish an IP court.  Now, according to Tian, development of a specialized IP court is a development direction for China as well as one that is increasingly recognized by other developing countries.

Commissioner Tian Lipu has made enormous contributions to the development of China’s IP and patent systems and has earned the respect and friendship of many IP officials throughout the globe. It now seems that even as he was preparing to retire, one of his visions for improvements to the IPR system is further down the road to success.

A Tribute To Prof. Guo Shoukang

I was privileged to be invited to the celebration of Prof. Guo Shoukang’s 65th year of teaching law on Sunday September 15, 2013. Prof. Guo has had a remarkable career in Chinese intellectual property, civil law and Chinese intellectual history. The celebration was also a book warming for Guo Shoukang Selection of Legal Writings (郭寿康法学文选 Intellectual Property Press, 923 pp).

GuoShoukang

Now in his 87th year, Prof. Guo remains extremely active and alert. He continues to advise students. In addition, he serves as a member of the experts committee on China’s copyright law reform, is preparing an oral history of his work, and continues to translate foreign IP scholarship into Chinese. Prof. Guo has always been a leading proponent of both intellectual property and rule of law. One speaker at this event praised his singlehanded defense of the enactment of a patent law in the early 1980’s as a key component of China’s need to develop its science and technology and opening to the West. This effort was made over an extended period of time, at a time when China’s opening up policies were still unstable. SIPO Commisioner Tian Lipu, who could not attend personally, also praised Professor Guo’s key role in educating him and other Chinese officials on the once-new field of intellectual property. Dean Liu Chuntian of Renmin University’s IP faculty noted there are few individuals in China that can claim to span the time frame in law and intellectual life from China’s Republican period to the current time. Dean Liu described how Prof. Guo lived across a courtyard from Hu Shi, one of China’s leading intellectuals of the 20th century and a proponent of China’s literary revolution of May 4, 1919. Prof. Guo knew Hu Shi while he was teaching commercial law at Peking University in the late 1940’s, which was 65 years ago.

Among the many programs that I did with Prof. Guo, two stand out in my mind: one was an interview we did together on CCTV’s Dialogue in 2009 on IP Protection in a Globalized World. At age 85, Prof. Guo was a fierce advocate of the importance of IP and challenged the interviewer for not believing in China’s own capacity to innovate and its need to protect its own inventions. On a more personal note, in 2007, I had invited Prof. Guo to my house to celebrate Passover with my family. I believe no other Chinese friend was as inquisitive and appreciative of that event, which we talked about for years after.

In the introduction to Prof. Guo’s new book, Prof. Joseph Straus of the Max Planck Institute, described Prof. Guo as “doubtless the most respected and best known expert in intellectual property of his country. This is clearly evidenced by his numerous offices and recognitions at a national as well as international level. …No wonder that he has a worldwide fan community, including myself.” I am also privileged to be among the fan club of Prof. Guo Shoukang. Long life!