Upholding Development of Intellectual Property with Chinese Characteristics
Secretary of Party Committee and Commissioner of CNIPA
On November 30, 2020, the 19th Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee conducted a collective study on strengthening the country's intellectual property (IP) protection. General Secretary Xi Jinping presided over the study and delivered an important speech, in which he fully recognized the historic achievements China has made in IP protection, systematically set forth the great importance of the protection of IP, dissected the current situation and tasks faced by the protection of IP, and made major arrangements for comprehensively enhancing the protection of IP. His insightful and inspirational remarks, which cover the entire range of IP protection and make clear requirements, lay out the fundamental principles and action guide for comprehensively strengthening IP protection in China for the new era. We must tirelessly study the speech to comprehend its profound meanings and earnestly implement it.
1. Historic achievements in the development of IP with Chinese characteristics
In his speech, General Secretary Xi Jinping looked back on the extraordinary journey IP protection in China took from the founding of the People's Republic of China to reform and opening up, and to the 18th CPC National Congress. He pointed out that IP protection in China has blazed a trail of Chinese characteristics in its attainment of historic progress. In just several decades, China accomplished what it took developed countries several hundred years to do in IP protection, growing into a veritable IP powerhouse from scratch. This hard-won achievement offers an abundant source of valuable lessons.
The party's leadership over IP has been continuously strengthened. Soon after the founding of the People's Republic of China, the protection of IP was actively explored. After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the CPC, IP protection in China gradually embraced standardization. In 2008, the Outline of National Intellectual Property Strategy was promulgated and implemented, elevating IP into a national strategy. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee has attached more importance to IP undertakings. General Secretary Xi Jinping has issued a series of important directives and presided over several meetings of the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform (Leading Group), which reviewed and passed such important documents as the Guideline on Strengthening Intellectual Property Rights Protection and the Overall Plan for the Pilot Reform of Comprehensive Management of Intellectual Property, as well as making a series of major decisions. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued the Action Plan for Further Implementation of the National Intellectual Property Strategy (2014-2020), Several Opinions of the State Council on Accelerating the Construction of an Intellectual Property Power under the New Conditions, and The National Intellectual Property Protection and Application Plan for the 13th Five-year Plan period, among others. Institutions and mechanisms such as the State Council's inter-ministerial joint conference on the implementation of IP strategy have been introduced. The establishment of the State Administration for Market Regulation and the reorganization of China National Intellectual Property Administration has realized the centralized and unified management of patents, trademarks, geographical indications (GIs) of origin, and layout designs of integrated circuits as well as the comprehensive enforcement of laws on patents and trademarks, all of which contributed to drastically improved efficiency of administrative management. Many IP courts have been set up, including the IP Court introduced by the Supreme People's Court, as the country keeps boosting judicial protection of IP rights.
The IP legal system is becoming more and more refined. Since the 1980s, China has successively formulated and promulgated laws and regulations such as the Trademark Law, Patent Law, Copyright Law, Anti-unfair Competition Law, New Plant Variety Protection Regulations, Integrated Circuit Layout Design Protection Regulations, and Olympic Symbol Protection Regulations, among others. A comprehensive IP legal system that complies with internationally accepted rules has been formed, with constant revisions and improvements informed by practice. In recent years, the newly formulated Civil Code has established important legal principles for IP protection, and revisions to the Patent Law, Trademark Law, and Copyright Law put in place a punitive infringement compensation system that is among the costliest in the world for offenders, providing strong legal support for effective IP protection. In the meantime, China has joined almost all major international IP conventions and actively fulfilled its responsibilities and obligations stipulated in these conventions, as it is becoming a firm defender, important participant, and active builder of international IP rules.
The comprehensive IP strength of China has grown rapidly. Over the past decades, IP in China has developed from scratch and continues to grow. Especially since the 18th CPC National Congress, the comprehensive IP strength of the country has risen rapidly, with the numbers of core patents, well-known trademarks, valuable copyrights, and high-quality GI products steadily increasing. In 2020, the number of domestic invention patents per 10,000 people (excluding Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan) reached 15.8, and the number of valid trademark registrations rose to 30.2 million, both of which are more than four times that of 2012. In 2019, China made more PCT international patent applications than any other country in the world, and the number of its international trademark applications in the Madrid System ranked third globally. Social satisfaction with IP protection in China has increased from 63.69 points in 2012 to 80.05 points in 2020. China's ranking in the Global Innovation Index rose from 34th in 2012 to 14th in 2020, making it the highest among middle-income economies and one of the fastest-improving countries in the world. Among the 5,000 world-leading brands, China accounts for 408, with a total value of US$1.6 trillion. The ranking of China in Doing Business, an annual report released by the World Bank, has jumped from 91st in 2012 to 31st in 2020, being one of the top 10 economies with the greatest improvement in business environment for two consecutive years. In 2019, the added value of patent-intensive industries accounted for 11.6% of the country's GDP. The latest statistics show that the direct output value of enterprises using the sign of “Geographical Indication of P.R. China” reached 639.8 billion yuan. The comprehensive IP strength of China, which has grown fast, provided strong support for the country's economic and social development.
On April 1, 1985, the first day of the implementation of the Patent Law of the People's Republic of China, Hu Guohua, an engineer from the 207 Institute of the former Ministry of Aerospace Industry, submitted China's first invention patent application. The number of the patent granted to him is “85100001.0.” This marked patent protection in China setting off in the right direction and on the fast lane. The picture shows Hu Guohua holding the first invention patent certificate China issued more than 30 years ago. (Photo credit: Sun Zifa, China News Service)
The international IP cooperation network has been steadily expanded. China has been dedicated to promoting multilateral, peripheral, mini-multilateral, and bilateral international IP cooperation in a coordinated manner to build a new pattern of international IP cooperation. China deeply involves itself in multilateral affairs under the framework of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and resolutely safeguards the multilateral IP system. The WIPO has opened its China Office, and the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances, the first international IP treaty signed in China and named after a Chinese city, has come into force. China successfully held two high-level Belt and Road IP meetings, and eight pragmatic cooperation projects achieved important results in protection cooperation, review cooperation, basic capacity building, and public awareness enhancement. China has been actively advancing in-depth and pragmatic IP cooperation with the other IP5 countries (IP5 is the name given to a forum of the five largest intellectual property offices in the world. Members of IP5 are the European Patent Office, the Japan Patent Office, the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office), the other BRICS countries, ASEAN, and Africa, opening the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) with 30 countries and regions. After 22 rounds of negotiations, the China-EU agreement on GI protection and cooperation was signed, involving 275 GI products from each side, which significantly strengthened China-EU's economic and trade relations. China is making more and more friends in the field of IP, and its discourse power and influence in the international IP community continue to increase.
Ideas and measures for IP-related tasks keep improving. The IP administration in China seeks stable progress of the country's IP sector as its general objective and is focused on achieving high-quality IP development to support high-quality economic and social development. The concept of a systematic approach has been promoted, with overall planning to advance strict, inclusive, prompt, and fair IP protection, the coordinated introduction of mechanism/platform building and industry-boosting measures for IP application, and the removal of barriers in the complete chain of creation, application, protection, management, and service and between different IP categories to achieve combined benefits in the area of IP management. The grass-roots levels and the basics are the focal points of IP administration in China, with steady improvement made in review quality and efficiency and efforts paid to enhance local IP capabilities and raise public awareness of IP. We have been enforcing strict self-governance of the CPC, fully relying on the party organizations and CPC members at all levels of the IP administration system to overcome challenges and lead the way forward, deepening the integration of party building and our day-to-day work, and solidly pushing forward the fight against corruption. High-standard party building is the compass and engine of high-standard development of IP administration in China.
2. Accurately grasping major issues of IP protection in the new era
Accurately grasp the significance of IP protection. General Secretary Xi Jinping incisively pointed out that innovation is the foremost driving force behind development, and protecting IP is protecting innovation. IP protection is related to China's modernization of its national governance system and capabilities, its high-quality development, the quality of its people's lives, the overall situation of its opening-up, and its national security. The important remarks made by General Secretary Xi Jinping raised IP protection to an unprecedented level. We need to view as the basis of our work the above-mentioned five aspects that IP impacts, integrating IP protection into the overall picture of national economic and social development and providing strong all-round IP-related support. In particular, strict IP protection should be leveraged to improve the modern property rights system and deepen market-oriented reforms of factors so that the market can play a decisive role in resource allocation and the government can better play its role; crack down on all types of infringement and counterfeiting per the law, improve the quality of the supply system, and promote high-quality development; effectively safeguard the rights and interests of consumers by offering them only products with reliable quality; optimize the business environment to build a new higher-level open economy and strongly support the country's opening up; effectively protect core technologies independently developed by China, and solidly implement the review system for outbound transfer of IP.
Accurately grasp the strategic position of IP protection. General Secretary Xi Jinping insightfully pointed out that to build a modern socialist country in all aspects, we must, from the standpoint of national strategy and the requirements of entering a new development stage, comprehensively strengthen IP protection, promote the construction of a modern economic system, stimulate the innovative vitality of the whole society, and advance the forming of a new development pattern. The important instructions from General Secretary Xi Jinping profoundly clarified the goals and tasks of IP protection for the new era. In response, we must further enhance our sense of responsibility, mission, and urgency in IP protection in the new era, pinpoint the role of IP in building a modern economic system, and strengthen IP protection to better encourage domestic innovation, promote opening to the outside world, accelerate the construction of a high-standard market system, develop a higher-level open economy, and support the emergence of a new development pattern with the domestic cycle as the mainstay and domestic and international cycles complementing each other.
Accurately grasp the historical significance of IP protection. General Secretary Xi Jinping keenly pointed out that, at present, China is transforming from a major IP importer to a major IP creator, and quality has grown more desirable than quantity in IP development. The important speech of General Secretary Xi Jinping gave full recognition to the achievements of the IP sector in China, greatly encouraged us, and clarified the historical significance of IP undertakings. Standing at a new historical starting point, we should both find inspiration from past attainments to further IP development in China and accurately grasp the new situation, new characteristics, and new tasks of the IP sector, sticking to the direction pointed out by the party as we unwaveringly pursue IP development with Chinese characteristics. It is especially important to echo the theme of the times by prioritizing high-quality development, comprehensively strengthening the creation, use, protection, management, and service of IP to meet higher standards, redoubling our efforts to promote international cooperation in IP protection, and realizing the stable and high-quality development of the IP sector from a higher starting point.
Protecting IP rights and optimizing the business environment directly affect people's lives, the construction of an innovative country, and the high-quality economic and social development. The picture taken on April 26, 2020, shows the press conference the State Council Information Office of China held in Beijing on the 2019 Report on Intellectual Property Rights Protection and Business Environment (Photo credit: Yang Kejia, China News Service)
Accurately grasp the fundamental position of IP protection. The interests of the people decide the fundamental position of the CPC. General Secretary Xi Jinping astutely pointed out that we must respect the practical conditions of China, put the people's interests first, and carry out IP protection fairly and reasonably, thoroughly protecting IP rights while preventing excessive expansion of individual and corporate rights so as to safeguard both public interests and incentives for innovation. The important speech by General Secretary Xi Jinping fully embodied the thought of people-centered development and clearly demonstrated his values. Whether the people's IP rights are effectively protected, whether their potential for innovation is effectively tapped, and whether economic and social development is effectively promoted should be the fundamental criteria of our work in IP protection. We must center our work on the practical conditions of China, building an IP system based on the lessons learned from other countries and consistent with the conditions and development needs of China. We must uphold fair and reasonable protection and strike a balance of interests between right holders and the general public, not only effectively protecting the legitimate rights and interests of right holders, but also robustly promote the dissemination and utilization of knowledge, so that innovations can better benefit the people.
Accurately grasp the strategy for international IP cooperation and competition. General Secretary Xi Jinping keenly pointed out that we must uphold the concept of a community with shared future for humankind, adhering to the principles of openness, inclusiveness, balance, and benefits shared by all as we fully participate in the global IP governance under the framework of the WIPO, spur the improvement in rules and standards of the IP sector and related international trade and investment, and work toward a more equitable and reasonable global IP governance system. We will deepen IP cooperation with Belt and Road countries and regions and advocate the sharing of knowledge. The important speech by General Secretary Xi Jinping profoundly clarified the strategy of the IP sector in international cooperation and competition. We need to focus, therefore, on the overall situation of China's reform and opening up as we strengthen international cooperation in IP protection. It is particularly necessary to leverage such IP cooperation platforms as the WIPO, Belt and Road initiative, IP5, and BRICS to promote the continuous improvement of the international IP governance system. To achieve equal IP protection in China and overseas, we will push for greater protection of Chinese IP in foreign countries while remaining dedicated to protecting the legal IP of foreign businesses operating in China.
Accurately grasp the key tasks of IP protection. In his speech, General Secretary Xi Jinping laid out arrangements for improving the top-level design of IP protection work, promoting the rule of law in IP protection work, strengthening the protection of all aspects of IP, deepening the reform of the system and mechanism for IP protection, advancing in a coordinated way international IP cooperation and competition, and safeguarding national security in the IP sector. This is a major plan for IP protection based on the current overall situation and oriented to the future, hence its great specificness and instructiveness. These six aspects, which are interrelated and
3. Adhering to IP development with Chinese characteristics and making groundbreaking progress in the reform and development of the IP sector
Standing at a historical conjecture, we must firmly implement the spirit of General Secretary Jinping's important speech and the central government's decisions and plans on IP protection, accurately grasping the traits of the new development stage, thoroughly implementing the new development concept, and promoting the construction of a new development pattern. We must also continuously improve our capabilities of political judgment, understanding, and execution, while we adhere to the path of IP development with Chinese characteristics, earnestly strengthen our abilities to fulfill our IP protection responsibilities under the current situation, and constantly strive for groundbreaking progress in the reform and development of the IP sector so that we can provide even stronger support to the building of China into a modern socialist country in all aspects.
Strengthen all-aspect IP protection with coordinated efforts. Cross-department coordination will be boosted to improve the protection system that includes review and approval of IP applications, administrative law enforcement, judicial protection, arbitration and mediation, industry self-discipline, and citizen integrity, all important elements in our efforts to achieve broad-based, all-around IP protection. The comprehensive IP management system will be upgraded to enhance its protection capabilities. We will strive to build an easy-to-use, well-developed public IP service system, improve public IP services, and promote the standardization of public IP services. The construction of IP infrastructure powered by information and intelligent technologies will pick up the pace, as will the integrated development of online and offline IP protection. A pilot supervision system based on credit and hierarchical classification will be advanced more thoroughly, and the establishment of an IP integrity system will receive more support. More public awareness campaigns and educational workshops will be held to raise the awareness of the whole society to respect and protect IP rights.
Continue to innovate and deepen the reform of the IP protection system and mechanism. We will continue to focus on the effective implementation of the reforms in IP protection announced by the central government following the 18th CPC National Congress. Differentiated industrial and regional IP policies will be explored, the IP application review system improved, and the guiding principles, technology, and work style of IP application review updated to improve review quality and efficiency and better meet the needs of the people. We will also improve the IP protection in emerging fields such as big data, artificial intelligence, and genetic technology to promote their growth. The IP valuation system, with its valuation mechanism and criteria, will be refined, the IP ownership system improved, and measures against the abuse of IP formulated to facilitate the realization of the value of an IP asset.
Actively take actions to coordinate the promotion of international IP cooperation and competition. We will get deeply involved in the multilateral governance of the WIPO, accelerate China's accession to the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, actively participate in the negotiations over IP chapters in relevant free trade zone agreements, promote the refinement of rules and standards on IP and related international trade and investment, and push for a more equitable and reasonable global IP governance system. The channels for IP-related publicity will be broadened to better tell the story of IP in China and further establish the image of China as a protector of IP in accordance with the law. IP cooperation as part of the Belt and Road initiative will be deepened to build a road of joint innovation. The IP-related content in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the China-EU Geographical Indications Agreement will be fully implemented to spur trade exchanges.
Fulfill our most inviolable duty by resolutely safeguarding national security in the IP sector. Taking a holistic view of national security, we will strengthen the independent research and development and protection of key and core technologies that affect national security and manage the transfer of IP concerning national security in accordance with the law. We will improve the laws, regulations, and policies related to anti-monopoly and fair competition in the IP sector to create legitimate and powerful measures for our toolbox. An efficient international IP risk early warning and emergency response mechanism will be formed as we accelerate the construction of a national overseas IP dispute response guidance center and provide better IP risk early warning and IP protection assistance to overseas Chinese enterprises so as to effectively protect the development interests of China.
At the China International Fair for Trade in Services held in 2020, national and local IP departments dispatched personnel to the IP protection office of the fair to carry out IP protection and consultation services on the spot, which contributed to the success of the fair. (Photo credit: Jiang Wenjie, China Intellectual Property News)
Improve the top-level design of IP protection for the future. We will accelerate the formulation of a strategy for building China into a country strong in IP, a national IP protection and utilization plan for the 14th Five-Year Plan period with clear goals, tasks, measures, and implementation blueprints, and annual plans for its orderly implementation. The principle of balance of interests between the rights holders and the public will be upheld, whereby IP will be fully protected, and excessive expansion of IP rights forestalled. The project to improve patent quality will be vigorously carried out to help solve technological chokepoints; efforts will be made to support the restructuring of the country's industrial foundations by encouraging the creation and collection of related IP. To support high-quality economic and social development, we will continue the trademark and brand strategy and launch a campaign to boost rural revitalization with GIs.
Promote the rule of law in IP protection to reflect the trends of the times. IP-related stipulations in the Civil Code will be strictly followed, the revision of the implementation regulations for the Patent Law carried out, a mechanism for handling high-profile patent disputes established, and an early settlement mechanism for drug patent disputes steadily implemented. Research and demonstration of further revisions to the Trademark Law will be conducted, and legislation on geographical indications strengthened. The construction of a guidance system for administrative enforcement of IP laws will be promoted, as will the unification of review authorization standards, administrative law enforcement standards, and judicial judgment standards. Online services provided by IP authorities and the courts that join mediation and litigation will be advanced to promote diversified settlement of IP disputes. In cooperation with relevant departments, we will step up IP law enforcement, especially targeting industries and regions where IP infringements are rampant with decisive actions to root out the problem.(Translated from CNIPA Website Chinese Version)