In the latest move to shore up its business environment, China has unveiled a new blueprint for the protection of intellectual property rights over the next five years, pledging to effectively curb IPR infringement.
Officials and experts said that the five-year plan recently issued by the State Council, China's Cabinet, has laid out goals for tougher legislation and paved the way for stronger law enforcement in key sectors.
The blueprint comes on the heels of a 15-year master plan released in September, which stated China's aim of becoming a global leader in IPR protection by 2035.
According to the document, China will enforce a punitive compensation system for IPR infringements to curb violations and improve the share of patent-intensive industries and copyright industries in GDP over the next five years.
Amendments will be made to the patent, trademark, copyright and antitrust laws, and legislation regarding a product's geographical indication and commercial secrets will be ramped up.
Shen Changyu, head of the China National Intellectual Property Administration, said in an interview earlier this month that the blueprint was a concrete road map for IPR development over the next five years.
He said that major highlights include adherence to the philosophy that protecting IPR is protecting innovation, as well as laying the groundwork for a stronger protection mechanism across the board.
With China's booming online economy now requiring greater IPR protection, he said the administration will coordinate efforts both online and offline and respond to challenges, such as the ease with which evidence related to infringement can be destroyed in the information age.
The document calls for the improvement of the protective mechanisms covering emerging areas and new business models, including big data, artificial intelligence and gene technology, and aims to boost research into the formulation of data IPR protection regulations.
Protection for intangible cultural heritage will be stepped up, and stronger safeguards for sports, entertainment programs and livestreaming will be implemented. The government will also establish a damage evaluation mechanism for IPR infringements, the document added.
China will launch a special program for data IPR protection, explore related legislation and promote amendments to relevant laws and regulations.
According to a report released by the World Intellectual Property Organization this month, China led the world in patent applications last year, with 1.5 million requests filed. The nation issued over 530,000 patents, up 17.1 percent year-on-year-making the country top in terms of patent approval growth among members of the organization.
Dong Yu, executive vice-dean of the China Institute for Development Planning at Tsinghua University, said IPR has become one of the key pillars of China's high-quality development efforts.
Official data showed patent-dependent industries making up 11.6 percent of China's GDP last year, with copyright industries accounting for 7.4 percent.
"Stronger IPR protection will act as a cornerstone in the development of a high-standard market system," Dong said. "In addition to leveling the playing field for innovative businesses, a strong protective system will also help improve the consumer market and enhance protection of consumer rights."
To enable IPR to play a bigger role in supporting the economy, the document pledged to improve transfer and transformation mechanisms for such rights, with steps to give researchers from colleges and research institutions more latitude over the release of their findings.
China will take steady, proactive steps to develop IPR finance, including measures to refine the financing system through IPR mortgages, as well as improve the risk management mechanism.
Yi Jiming, director of the Institute for International Intellectual Property at Peking University, said the document seeks to better integrate IPR mechanisms with technological innovation and the industrial revolution to increase growth of emerging sectors.
The new policies are focused on areas of concern to the public and pledge to solve patent disputes over pharmaceuticals and enhance reviews and protection for Traditional Chinese Medicine patents, which will give people a greater sense of security, he said.
Wang Junlin, a partner at the Yingke Law Firm and who specializes in IPR, said the document will help China refine its punitive compensation mechanism to better solve problems such as the low cost of infringement and the high cost of rights protection.
Wang said many smaller firms in China are still prone to IPR infringement due to a lack of awareness.
"Many still do not realize that copycatting is illegal," he said. "A punitive compensation mechanism will raise public awareness on respecting IPR and punish severe violators. It will also bolster protection and increase people's enthusiasm to stand up for their rights."