IP rights in China: Still inscrutable

Michael Atkins has some highlights from a presentation given last week on enforcing intellectual property rights in China by Professor Zhang Guangliang at the King County (Washington) Bar Association over on the left coast.

The premise of the talk, and Michael’s post, is — quite reasonably — understanding the best way to go into China and utilize their system. There’s no question the People’s Republic wants to spread the word that it has a system, and that it can work; clearly a charm offensive is under way on just that point.

Is my long-standing skepticism, and that of many others, still justified?  I don’t know if there’s any way to tell yet.  But a 2010 post from Michael Masnick should remind big IP:  Be careful what you wish for!  The deference big companies and big law firms get from U.S. courts doesn’t translate so well over there.  While, as usual, I wouldn’t track Michael’s thinking word for word in this passage, his point, as usual, is still well taken:

Various studies have shown that greater copyright, patent and trademark protections tend to follow a period of great innovation, when the companies that did that innovation look to protect their position from upstarts elsewhere. In other words, it acts in the exact opposite manner as it’s supposed to. It’s not an incentive to innovate, but a tool used to stop competition and innovation from others. The situation in China is playing out exactly according to that formula. The country is growing into a bigger believer in intellectual property laws — but only for the sake of using it to protect against foreigners — which, we assume, is not what US companies wanted, but which they should have expected if they ever bothered to look at the actual history of stronger intellectual property laws.

Looking at history is not something “companies” or their lawyers tend to do at all.  Anyway, I’m sure it’s a great learning experience, on the clock and all — a point Stan Abrams nails here.

UPDATE:  Perhaps it is not the intellectual kind of property that is the biggest concern in China right now…

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Author:Ron Coleman

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4 Responses to “IP rights in China: Still inscrutable”

  1. Joel G. MacMull
    November 22, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    Coleman, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s time to embrace the fact that China while a relative novice when it comes to IP enforcement is exactly right where it should be, all things considered. It’s sweeping reforms to its patent, trademark and copyright laws as a condition to WTO accession are still less than a decade old, considering the time it took to establish institutional enforcement. Individual property concepts are themselves an anathema to a 2500 year Confucian tradition that celebrated rote copying as a pinnacle of man’s achievement. So yes Ron, embrace China as the place to be. After all, can you still recommend to your clients otherwise?

  2. November 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Joel, can you get us a client to even ask that question?

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  1. The Br@nd Ranch - November 23, 2011

    RT @roncoleman: IP rights in China: Still inscrutable http://t.co/mCUGJyeW

  2. Brooklyn Law School - December 22, 2011

    IP rights in China: Still inscrutable – Mozilla Firefox http://t.co/Aq69YzMC

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