Hopes High for Tougher IPR Protection in China
China's legal experts have backed official plans to toughen intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.
The State Council promised on Wednesday that the government would simplify and cheapen application procedures for patents, provide more financial support for IPR protection and start blacklisting offenders.
Chinese authorities recognize that protecting intellectual property is crucial if the country is to see the boom in entrepreneurship and innovation that they hope will prop up the economy.
Among the 40 countries researched by the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), China has more potential than most to create intellectual property, but it ranks among the bottom 10 in the ability of protection, the SIPO said.
In 2014, over 178,000 IPR cases were investigated by administrative organs in China.
It was with some understatement then that Han Xiucheng, head of the SIPO research center, said after Wednesday's meeting, "China lacks effective protection over intellectual property."
But he added, "By pointing out that reforming the IPR system is an important basis for more innovation and entrepreneurship, the government has shown a stronger resolution."
Cao Xinming, a professor with Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, agreed: "The government is determined, and these measures are likely to benefit intellectual property owners."
There is an urgent need to quicken the process of patent examinations as China faces surging numbers of applications. A total of 2.36 million patents were accepted last year, a surge from less than one million in 2009.
Patent fees are also too high, said Cao. The annual charge for a patent of invention ranges from 900 yuan (140.6 U.S. dollars) to 8,000 yuan depending on how many years it has been preserved.
"It makes a lot of sense for the government to underline cutting down patent fees," Han said. "This will really stimulate people to innovate."@ Economists believe that small, bold enterprises are particularly likely to come up with the new products that the government wants.
However, according to Cao, "these are just the firms that have been short of policy support in terms of intellectual property, and are thus struggling."
"Intellectual property rights are crucial for small and medium-sized enterprises. Better protection will support the real economy and benefit ordinary people," Cao said.