Peking adopts new tone: China’s president Xi Jinping stressed the importance of intellectual property rights protection and mentioned that China should accelerate institutional development in the field of IP – especially in emerging areas and new business types. Infringement should be prosecuted more severely and the penalties should become heavier. Simultaneously, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang emphasized that the government does not tolerate any IPR infringing at the recent World Economic Forum.
The signal from the senior Chinese leadership is apparent and strong – but is it credible? We think yes. In our experience, IP protection in China has massively improved. Foreign companies increasingly succeed in Chinese Courts, and compensation payments are on the rise. Even difficult cases are being won, e.g. design protection by copyrights or trademark protection based on trade dress. China has learned that in a long term sustainable innovation is only possible on the basis of strong IP protection.
However, we are afraid that the active sanctioning by Chinese authorities against IP infringement will be restricted to some key areas, such as public security, human health or food safety. For other branches, it is still the duty of IPR owners to discover and fight against counterfeiters. Furthermore, the success in IP protection depends on the amendment and effective enforcement of IP laws, which still has a long way to go in China.