China will play a proactive role in international rule-making concerning intellectual property rights and help domestic businesses better protect their IPR as they go global, according to a recent policy document.
The five-year plan on the protection and use of IPR recently issued by the State Council, China's Cabinet, lays out proposals for actively participating in shaping international IPR regulations pertaining to genetic resources, traditional knowledge, folk art and intangible cultural heritage, as well as emerging areas and new sectors.
Cooperation with Belt and Road Initiative member regions over IPR alignment will be stepped up with the development of the Digital Silk Road, and China will also move forward with international collaboration over IPR information and data resources.
Gan Shaoning, deputy head of the China National Intellectual Property Administration, told a news conference earlier this month that IPR has increasingly become a focus for businesses as they engage in multinational operations.
"We will offer equal protection for foreign businesses in China. In the meantime, we must also spearhead the protection of Chinese businesses overseas," he said.
Gan explained that the plan seeks to make it more convenient for Chinese businesses to register IPR overseas by introducing measures including the establishment of stronger international cooperation for IPR review services, an expanded network of rapid patent review and cooperation in sharing new crop varieties.
China will also create an international IPR risk warning and emergency response mechanism as well as a risk control and prevention mechanism as part of broader efforts to strengthen rights protection.
To help Chinese businesses overseas, Gan said the government will implement an IPR protection project in the foreign trade sector, which includes the establishment of guidelines for businesses on responding to overseas IPR disputes, and an investigation report system for trading partners.
Channels for international law enforcement coordination that target IPR infringements and crimes and cross-border cooperation mechanisms for customs will be expanded, and insurance agencies will be encouraged to extend their services to cover infringements occurring overseas.
Guidance will be provided for cross-border e-commerce companies to better help businesses improve their capacity for handling overseas IPR risks.
Other steps include scaling up international IPR cooperation in key areas such as pharmaceuticals and the research and development of COVID-19 vaccines, and supporting the capacity building of developing nations in that regard.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a news conference on Nov 9 that China has joined almost all major international conventions on intellectual property and has taken effective measures to protect the rights and interests of IP owners at home and abroad.
He said that China will expand the opening of its IPR sector to the world to cover more areas and at a deeper level. It will also upgrade international cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization and other parties, and contribute more to the balanced, inclusive and sustainable development of global IPR.
Chu Xiang, an associate professor at the Institute of Intellectual Property Rights at the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, said China's proactive participation in global IPR rule-making will help improve national discourse on the subject and assist Chinese businesses with global operations.
"It will also enable authorities to learn about the latest moves internationally over frontier issues, such as data mining and cross-border flow, before formulating domestic legislative amendments," he said.
He explained that IPR is the most important tool for Chinese businesses looking to expand abroad.
"It has become an existential issue for businesses to plan their IPR protection globally," he said. "The obtaining of IPR provides a strong competitive edge for businesses, and being able to effectively protect their rights is a necessary part of that edge."