Three China/IP Positions Open

In what I hope is a good sign for the job market for next year, recently three China-related positions have opened up, all of which have IP as an area of focus.

In the private sector, the US Information Technology Office is looking for a new managing director. USITO is a trade group based in Beijing. USITO is involved in supporting US high tech industry in China.  USITO has been actively involved in IP issues in China in the past.

In Washington DC, the US Patent and Trademark Office (where I have my “day job”) is looking for a China IP program specialist. A law degree is not required. Instead the program requires experience and interest in running IP-related programs in China.   There are two announcements – one for applicants from outside the US government, and one for applicants from within the US government.  This position closes December 4, and is at the GS-12 – 13 level.  Applicants must be US citizens.
In addition the Department of Justice is looking for a state or federal prosecutor to go on detail to Hong Kong for a short term assignment (14 months). This position has a title of “Regional Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordinator” and includes obligations to: (1) assess the capacity of law enforcement authorities throughout the region to enforce intellectual property rights; (2) develop and deliver training and other capacity building formats designed to enhance the capacity of justice sector personnel to enforce intellectual property rights (3) assist in developing or strengthening institutions dedicated to enforcing intellectual property rights; (4) monitor regional trends in intellectual property protection and computer crimes; and (5) provide expert assistance in support of U.S. Government IP and computer crime policies and initiatives in the region. The deadline for applications is November 30.
Hopefully, these are signs of a developing job market in China IP-related matters in 2016!

USPTO-SIPO To Conduct Second IP Licensing Program

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USPTO and SIPO are cohosting another program on IP licensing on July 29 at SIPO’s training center in Beijing. I reported on the last program earlier this year here. Although the final agenda is not set, this program is intended to take a “deeper dive” on many of the issues raised in the earlier program. Registration can be accomplished by emailing jia.liu@trade.gov.

Note: Drawing is used pursuant to a Creative Commons License for non-commercial purposes.(http://www.iisvolta.gov.it/home/).

China’s Rising Presence in the IPO Top 300

Intellectual Property Owners (IPO) recently released its top 300 organizations granted US patents in 2014.  Many Chinese companies made the top 300.  TSMC was the top amongst Mainland or Taiwan companies, ranking number 26, with 1,446 US patents. Huawei was 48 with 872 patents; ZTE was 63 at 705.  ZTE also showed a 58.2 increase over last year.  Hon Hai (Foxconn) was number 68 with a drop of 33.8 percent in patent filings to 665, and a drop in rank from number 35 in 2013.   Hong Fu Jin was number 85 ( a decrease of 47.9 percent), and Shenzhen China Star Optoelectronics showed the highest increase of any Chinese organization amongst the top 300, with a total of 431 filings.  This 318.4%  increased earned it the number 93 spot.

Patent grants increased for both Chinese and Taiwanese cell phone companies.  Amongst Taiwanese cell phone companies, HTC also made the top 300.  It received 210 patent grants, with an increase of 44.3% earning it the 157th place.

Tsinghua University retained its rank as the top Chinese university patent filer, ranking number 153 with 230 patents in 2014.  Amongst well-known universities, Tsinghua retained the enviable position of being behind the University of California system (number 91) and MIT (number 135) and ahead of Stanford (181), and Caltech (196).

Chinese “Top 300” changing ranks may be contrasted with overall patent grant trends at USPTO.  Patent grants from all countries, increased at USPTO last year, from 301,962 in 2013 to 326,039.  This was an increase of  about 8 percent.  Chinese patent grants increased from 6597 to 7921, an increase of  about 20 percent.

China is receiving more patents in both relative and absolute terms.   There were however many outliers in China’s overall growth.  While many Chinese organizations received patents in numbers that were well in excess of the overall growth rate at USPTO, as noted above several organizations experienced negative growth (Foxconn, Hong Fu Jin).

Of course, increases in patent grants do not necessarily translate into patent quality or commercial value.   Other patent data, including data on allowance rates, pendency rates and technology rate can help in further understanding overall patent data.  Data on licensing flows can also assist in understanding China’s role as technology importer and an emerging technology exporter.

Several China IP and Trade Opportunities Open in the DC Area

USPTO just announced on May 6 a position opening as a “Program Specialist” handling Intellectual Property Exchanges with China.  There are two position descriptions.

The positions involve developing and implementing multiple year  training plans (MOUs) with Chinese counterpart agencies; organizing programs for Chinese visitors to the USPTO; working on USPTO materials to be published; developing online resources; developing an on-line presence;  developing training materials; providing empirical sources/information resources for companies and other government agencies; and  working with universities and third parties in developing richer information sources.  The position involves working with the China team s at USPTO’s Office of Policy and International Affairs.

USTR’s IP office also has a “Director” level position open.  The position is not China-specific, but does involve “resolv[ing] IPR and innovation trade problems using all available tools of U.S. trade policy, including the Special 301 process” and “serv[ing] as negotiator for the intellectual property provisions of trade agreements”.  In addition, USTR’s China office has a trade position open that does not  appear to be IP-focused.  If your interest is in China trade and IP, my guess is that both jobs would help job-seekers get a foot in the door of doing China-related trade and IP/innovation policy.

Most federal jobs have short closing dates.  Please read the announcements for the full descriptions and details.

Not to be outdone, the private sector is also looking.  Asia Society also has a new policy position opening involving Asia-wide economies and trade.

In addition, Chinese graduate students in the United States have only a few days left (May 11) to apply for scholarships to the US Foreign Policy Colloquium of the National Committee on US-China Relations.

Licensing: A Forthcoming Program and Some Historical Perspective

With recent antitrust investigations in China, as well as China’s design to have more market-oriented targets for IP, export growth in IP rights from China is slated to grow from 1.36 billion USD in 2013 to 8 billion USD in 2020, according to the Action Plan for the National IP Strategy.  Commercialization-related goals were also found in the Third Plenum, to increase IP utilization generally.

In this light, attached is the agenda for a forthcoming USPTO-SIPO program on licensing of intellectual property, which will take place April 15 in Beijing.  There is no fee for the program.  Seats are currenlty only available on a wait-list basis.   U.S. companies and their counsel can wait -ist for the program by contacting Ms. Liu Jia at the USPTO office in Beijing: jia.liu@trade.gov.

I also recently recovered from my own files an unpublished case on technology transfer from China to the United States, from over 10 years ago in the Eastern District of Texas.  The case involved a Chinese university professor that licensed his technology to a US company to collect revenue and litigate, as necessary.   I was an expert witness in that case, involving Infineon Technologies.  Although China’s tech transfer regime has since changed considerably, as I recall the case dealt with using US choice of law for the licensing of a Chinese-owned Chinese patent and US patent, including whether defects in Chinese ownership or regulatory approval for the license could be cured after the case was filed.

In a previous blog post, I noted that “choice of law in IP and technology transfer contracts is a “sleeper” issue – i.e., one that is too infrequently considered for all its strategic implications.  There may be situations where foreign law is preferred for a Chinese contract, or when Chinese law is preferred for a contract to be implemented overseas, or where choice of Chinese law brings some unhappy surprises.”  Although the choice of US law was ultimately sustained by the court, this decision demonstrated that there could be “unhappy surprises” in China’s then-existing over-regulation of technology contracts, including choosing United States law as a means to avoid these controls.

Since this case, China’s antitrust regime has interjected another level of uncertainty into licensing contracts for standards setting including by substituting Chinese law for a previously agreed choice of law.  .

Here’s a link to recent testimony I gave in an official capacity on licensing challenges in China. 

As always, this blog reflects my non-official, personal views.

Upcoming China IP Program at UCSD

On this Thursday, November 6, the University of California at San Diego will be hosting a lunchtime program ““Doing Business in China: New Developments in Intellectual Property Law and Enforcement” A luncheon panel discussion “Doing Business in China: New Developments in Intellectual Property Law and Enforcement.”  I will be joined by practitioners and in-house counsel as well as  by Prof. Tai Ming Cheung by UCSD and my USPTO colleague Susan Anthony.  This is a two hour program.  Luncheon is provided and advance reservations are required (see attached flyer).  If you are in the San Diego area, please join us!

USPTO Extends Period to Apply for China IPR Legal Positions

USPTO has extended the deadline to apply for the recently published China IPR legal positions in Washington, DC to April 9: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/364794400.  See my earlier post: https://chinaipr.com/2014/03/19/uspto-china-team-attorney-advisor-position-opens/.