China has become one of the world’s major IP jurisdictions. Innovation and IP protection have been encouraged by the Chinese government. After China started reform and opening to the outside world, it accelerated the process of establishing an intellectual property rights protection system in order to rapidly develop social productive forces, promote overall social progress, meet the needs of developing a socialist market economy and expedite China’s entry into the world economy. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have highlighted the importance of IP under many scenarios.
Foreign investors can register IP in China for trademarks, patents, designs and copyright. However, each of these is administered by a different government body. The primary law in China pertains to copyright. This protects copyrighted works of foreigners that are either first published in China or in countries that are signatories to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) copyright protection treaty.
According to the China Business Law Journal “ The Supreme People’s Court’s Intellectual Property Tribunal officially began work in 2019. It is specifically tasked with trying appeals of technology and monopoly cases, and, together with the 18 IP tribunals that have been spread around China’s main economic development belts in the past few years, as well as the three Intellectual Property Courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, has essentially given rise to a dedicated court system for IP adjudication in China.”
In an article published in the South China Morning Post, Beijing is accelerating its lawmaking process to consider draft legislation to protect the intellectual property rights of foreign investors, encourage voluntary transfers of technology but prohibit forced technology transfers by administrative means, to address key demands by Washington to reach a deal to fend of the trade war with the United States.
China is continuously trying to improve its IP and trademark protection law to bolster innovation and support foreign companies. The changes that took place this year in the IP protection law is targeting accountability at the platform level in addition to discouraging counterfeit retailers. This mainly applies to platforms like Taobao and WeChat, which allow small independent vendors to create their own online stores and thus attract hordes of sellers with less than honest business practices.