Concerted efforts needed for intellectual property protection

By GUAN YONGHONG / 02-18-2021 / (Chinese Social Sciences Today)

The model of Hualong One Reactor with independent intellectual property, as part of the national nuclear power project, was displayed on May 19, 2019. Photo: Hu Qingming/CNSphoto

Innovation is currently the first major driving force that leads development. As for innovation-driven development, intellectual property is one of the most fundamental institutional guarantees. In other words, protecting intellectual property is protecting innovation. As such, the following points are noteworthy. 
First, the focus should be on top-level design. A unified intellectual property code should be formulated in a timely fashion. Over the past more than 20 years, there has been continuous debate about the way intellectual property law should be incorporated into the Civil Code in the process of drafting and formulating the code. As the Civil Code was promulgated and entered into force, the issue settled down. The result is that intellectual property law is not included into the Civil Code as an independent part or chapter, and stipulations about it are scattered throughout the code in such parts as General Provisions, Contracts, Real Rights, and Tort Liability. The lawmaking about the main content of intellectual property is still limited to individual and separated forms. This format means high costs in lawmaking and emending, repeated lawmaking, weak coordination between different provisions, inconvenience in judicial and law enforcement processes. To resolve such problems, it is high time we study the formulation of a unified intellectual property code, which should cover major legal systems concerning patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Internationally, a few countries such as France, Russia, the Philippines, and Vietnam have implemented intellectual property legislation in a unified way. Compared with these countries, China has more mature conditions to unify the legislation in this field with a more urgent demand for economic, technological development, and international competition.   
The next point is about protection through concerted efforts. In the big picture of intellectual property protection, different means of protection actually have different positions and functions. Among them, judicial protection is central and fundamental. The Chinese judicial protection of intellectual property has proved its such role in terms of number of cases received, professional quality, strict procedures, the finality of verdicts, and enforceability of verdicts. In particular, China has continuously deepened reform of the judicial trial system and mechanisms concerning intellectual property. The Intellectual Property Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court was established, so were three intellectual property courts and three internet courts, which resolved the problems of long trial periods, difficulty to produce evidence for litigation and low compensation. The judicial trial quality was substantially improved with growing international influence. Definitely, administrative law enforcement, arbitration mediation, and self-discipline within intellectual property sectors are also important. Together with judicial protections, they play a concerted role, given auxiliary funds, professional talent, and specialized knowledge. 
In addition, intellectual property is not only a country's internal issue, but also a complex issue related to international discourse power and global competition. China needs to deeply participate in global intellectual property governance within the framework of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to support better international rules. Now the world's largest trading country and the largest manufacturing country, China has ranked first in terms of the number of patent for invention and registered trademarks for many years. Therefore, it should blaze new trails and take the lead in building international rules and systems for intellectual property. Revolving around the cyber economy, digital economy, new industries and new business forms, the rules for intellectual property protection should be innovated and applied first within China, and then be spread and implemented through WIPO, multilateral negotiations, and bilateral negotiations. The ultimate goal is to make them internationally applicable. 
Guan Yonghong is professor from the School of Intellectual Property at the South China University of Technology. 

Edited by BAI LE