FEATURED | The Four Periods of Intellectual Property “Hot Waves” in China
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FEATURED | The Four Periods of Intellectual Property “Hot Waves” in China

By Lu Chen

The rush establishment and rapid development of the Chinese Intellectual Property (IP) System is strongly related to the four periods of IP “hot waves” in China. Initially, during the negotiations of the Sino-US Trade Agreement and the Sino- US High Energy Physics Agreement, IP became an objectionable issue and negotiations reached an impasse. 

FEATURED | The Four Periods of Intellectual Property “Hot Waves” in China

Image Attribute: An Electronics Manufacturing Factory at Shenzhen, China 
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The US negotiators believed that IPP should be an integral part of bilateral agreements in science, technology and trade, as negotiators would be only allowed to sign an agreement on the condition of adequate IPP required by the US president.

Table Attribute: The effective time of each IP treaty ratified by China.

Table Attribute: The effective time of each IP treaty ratified by China.

The process of development of IPP in China is quite tortuous. What follow in this part are the four period of IP wave and the revolution of the IPP in China from 1973-2014.

The First “IP Fever” (1979)

The Chinese government had little knowledge and experience about the IP clauses in the early days; therefore, they were very laith to sign the agreements with US. This period has been described as the first “IP fever” because it was the start point of China to conduct very intensive research in this special area. The current authors name this as the first “hot wave” on IP in China―the formation wave.

1973, Premier Minister Zhou’s visit to WIPO

In 1973, the approval of Premier Zhou Enlai and the China Council For The Promotion Of International Trade (CCPIT)’s Director of Legal Affairs visited WIPO. It was the first time that the Chinese government allowed an officer to visit an international intellectual property institution since the foundation of the state.

1974, the first formal activity of IPR

The first formal activity of international intellectual property of China occurred in 1974 when the governments of China and Australia signed an exchange of notes regard the registration of trademark between both nations.

1979 Agreement

Intellectual property rights (IPRs) have been acknowledged and protected in the People’s Republic of China since 1979. The Agreement on Trade Relations Between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China of 1979 (“1979 Agreement”) was the starts of intellectual property protection by Western.

1980, access of WIPO

China joined WIPO as its 90rd member in 1980. Only one year after the acceding to WIPO, in 1981, the Director of WIPO Dr. Arpad Bogsch visited China, convened the first patent agents course personally at the CCPIT Headquarters in Beijing.

1984, the first patent law

In March 1984, China’s National People’s Congress promulgated the first Chinese patent law, which is an epoch-making event which opened a new chapter of the protection of intellectual property rights.

Table Attribute: IP in China by numbers, 2012

Table Attribute: IP in China by numbers, 2012

1985, SIPO’s foundation

The State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO), also known as the Chinese Patent Office, is the patent office of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It was founded on 1980, as the Patent Office of the People’s Republic of China, the predecessor of SIPO. It is responsible “for patent work and comprehensively coordination of the foreign related affairs in the field of intellectual property”.

1989, joined the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks

China joined the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks in 19894 the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, which dates from 1891, and the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement, which was adopted in 1989, entered into force on December 1, 1995, and came into operation on April 1, 1996. Common Regulations under the Agreement and Protocol also came into force on that date.

The Second Hot Wave (1991-1994)

1992, Signed MOU with US

Urged by American business executives, the USTR placed China on the “Priority Watch List” in 1989. By doing so, the United States gained leverage in negotiations with China while it did not need to initiate a Section 301 investigation.

In response to the Priority Watch List designation, China passed a new copyright law and issued new implementing regulations in 1990. A separate set of computer software regulations followed in 1991.

Hours before the deadline for imposing sanctions, both countries averted a potential trade war by signing the Memorandum of Understanding Between China and the United States on the Protection of Intellectual Property (“1992 MOU”).

The Third Hot Wave―The Improvement Wave

The third hot wave of IP occurred in 1995 when China became the signatory countries to the TRIPS agreement―“the improvement wave”. The third wave reflected a very different picture of IP in China. In the first two waves, China was mainly influenced by the US under its one-sided threats and the treaties and conventions of WIPO. Nevertheless, in the third wave, one-sided threats have been confined under the WTO agreement. TRIPS became the most important measurement on international trade and IP.

1995, agreement between China and United States

The 1995 National Trade Estimate Report estimated that U.S. industries suffered almost $850 million in losses due to copyright theft alone. On June 30 1994, the USTR again designated China a Priority Foreign Country and immediately initiated a Special 301 investigation. According to the Xinhua News Agency, China’s international news service, China needed to take such retaliatory measures “to protect its sovereignty and national dignity.” Ending up with the signing of “1995 Agreement”.

2.4. The Forth Hot Wave―The Enforcement Wave

The fourth wave―the enforcement wave, appeared in 2001 when China access into the WTO after 15 years of consultations. The principal character of this period has been the enhancement of legal enforcement.

2001, access of WTO, TRIPs

In order to gain the access to WTO, China enhanced the protection of IPRs by designing a number of strategies in 1996 APEC Individual Action Plan, including improve the enforcement of administration, enhance the public awareness of IPRs protection and strengthen judicial tools.

Finally, China has gained the entry into the WTO in 2001, complying with the minimum standards of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). The TRIPs requires a number of countries to strengthen their patent and other intellectual property rights (IPR) systems. Even though policy makers have committed to significant reforms, the implementation of this agreement remains contentious.

Image Attribute: Protecting IP in China

Image Attribute: Protecting IP in China

2004, SIPO’s progress

In 2004, China has become the fourth largest patent office in number of patent filings in the world, the top three countries are, by rank, Japan, the United States, and South Korea.

2014, the Beijing WIPO office

To improve cooperation on protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), the WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry came to Beijing in July for opening a WIPO office, one of only four globally. Gurry spoke highly of China’s support for WIPO, the high importance China attached to innovation and IPR protection and the remarkable achievements it made.

2014, the new strategy

The Promotion Plan for the Implementation of the National Intellectual Property Strategy in 2014 was published on May 5th. This plan is promulgated to implement the requirements of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the 3rd Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, carry out the requirements of the national television and telephone conference on implementing intellectual property strategy, promote the deep and efficient implementation of the national intellectual property strategy, identify the primary goals and measures for the implementation of the strategy in 2014.

Table: Countries filing the most patent applications, 2013 , WIPO

Table Attribute: Countries filing the most patent applications, 2013 ,WIPO


China’s drive to modernization through improving intellectual property protection has been pushed forward by constant efforts to improve formal intellectual property laws and institutions for acquiring, maintaining, and enforcing intellectual property rights. Chinese policymakers and government officials have worked diligently for thirty years in a consistent, unwavering drive to create and improve the country’s public intellectual property institutions. It’s for sure that both the management and enforcement of IPP in China will make a progress over time.

About The Author:

Lu Chen, School of Management, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China

Publication Details

IBusiness, Vol.07 No.01(2015), Article ID:54687,8 pages  10.4236/ib.2015.71008 The Evolution of Intellectual Property Protection in China.

© 2015 by author and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Cite This Article:

This article is an extract from a technical paper | LuChen (2015) The Evolution of Intellectual Property Protection in China iBusiness0765-73. doi: 10.4236/ib.2015.71008 / Download The Paper - LINK