China Unveils Guidelines to Promote Preservation and Innovative Development of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Source: China IP News

"Strengthen IP protection and utilization in the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) industry, improve the management system that gives TCM research institutions and personnel greater autonomy and establish a mechanism for the guarantee of the transformation of IP protection and scientific and technological achievements." Recently, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council released the Guide-lines on Promoting the Preservation and Innovative Development of TCM, pointing the direction of innovation and development of Chinese medicine in the new era. "The promulgation of the Guidelines is of great significance to reinforce IP protection and utilization in the TCM industry. As proposed in the guidelines, giving the research institutions and personnel more power to manage their scientific and technological achievements will further stimulate their motivation in R&D in the TCM industry and bring out a number of major scientific and technological achievements," said Song Xiaoting, professor of Shanghai International IP College of Tongji University and director of the Key Research Office for Legal Protection of Traditional Medicine of National Administration of TCM in an interview with the China IP News.

In recent years, China has introduced a series of laws, regulations, and policies to boost IP protection of TCM in all areas. In December 2016, the Traditional Chinese Medicine Law of the People's Republic of China was issued to list a variety of methods of IP protection of TCM such as applying geographical indication (GI) protection on TCM products, establishing a TCM traditional knowledge protection database, protection list and protection system by the state, giving the holders of TCM traditional knowledge the rights to inherit and use the knowledge held by them and the rights such as consent and benefit sharing on other people's access to and use of TCM traditional knowledge, exercising special protection on the TCM prescription composition and production process that are legally recognized as state secrets.

"The TCM itself is a great scientific and technological achievement," Song said that the Chinese government has always attached importance to and supported the development of TCM. In 2011 the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the then State Intellectual Property Office of China jointly issued "Guidelines to Promote IP work of Traditional Chinese Medicine"; in 2016, the TCM Law was released and right now the Guidelines were issued, improving the level of IP protection in the TCM industry to a record high. However, much work related to policy research has to be done on how to effectively give full play to its unique strength in the field of TCM and transform it into the advantages in IP.

Song suggested that in a bid to implement the "strengthening IP protection and utilization in the TCM industry" in the Guidelines, while encouraging technological innovation and product innovation, corresponding measures should also be taken to strengthen the market protection of traditional knowledge and traditional skills and stick to and promote some mechanisms that have proven effective in practice.