China’s administrative system for IP protection is currently in the state of reorganization and consolidation into one head organization, CNIPA (China National IP Administration). This means certain delays in processing of particular IP issues – e.g., awarding the status of Famous Trademark has been factually postponed for nearly a year now.
Another area that is subject to major organization changes is protection of Geographical Indications. New changes were announced at the CNIPA’s press conference in June 2019. CNIPA is currently working on establishing a Technical Committee for Protection of GI Products. It will be responsible for standards and guidance for GI protection. CNIPA’s objective is to standardize the GI protection system in China: it is recruiting new staff, developing the organizational structure and standard framework. After the new structures are in place, several existing committees will be abolished. The National GI Standardization Working Group that is currently responsible for the revision of GI products, will be transferred to the new Technical Committee.
While all of this might sound as usual news from China with an unreadable alphabet soup of organizational names, it actually means quite a big shift in the system of GI protection in China. Controlled previously partly by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), partly by the Trademark Office, it will now lie in the responsibility of CNIPA, a strong centralized organization. The consolidation and new design of the protection system is not over yet, but it is definitely to expect that GI protection and enforcement will be strengthened in China.
GI infringements will be taken more seriously, too. In the press conference, CNIPA announced that they will work with multiple further Chinese ministries and other authorities to jointly prosecute GI infringement by means of Social Credit System (Link). A joint statement already exists for joined punishment of serious patent infringement. It is issued by CNIPA and 38 further authorities including the National Development and Reform Commission, the People’s Bank of China, Central Propaganda Department, Supreme Court, Transportation Ministry and others. A similar solution is announced for serious trademark and GI violations – it means, a GI infringer might end not being able to buy plane or train tickets and being subject to further disadvantages through the Social Credit System.