With the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games quickly approaching, intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in China is becoming an ever more important issue. Even though China has acceded to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in December 2001, and has legislated substantially to reform its IPR protection laws, these reforms have not as yet stemmed all pirated computer software, Video CD's and DVD's from the Chinese market.
The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs Agreement), which is binding up all members of the WTO, requires member countries to implement IPR protection laws in accordance with minimum standards of IPR protection. Member countries' laws must also provide for 'effective' action against the infringement of IPR.
With China's trade with the rest of the world increasing to more than USD 50 billion annually and the Chinese economy expanding at the rate of 12 per cent annually, it is increasingly in China's interest to reform and enforce its IPR laws. This would ensure that China would be able to reap the economic benefits flowing from WTO accession.
A journal article written by Freehills solicitor Vincent Liu titled 'Copyright and Software Protection: is it working in China?' was recently published in the March 2003 edition of the Computers & Law Journal. The article focuses upon the issue of copyright protection and protection of computer software in China. The relevant issues examined in the article include:
History of the reform of intellectual property laws in China
Assessment of intellectual property laws in China and their compliance with the TRIPs Agreement
Political, social and economic impacts on intellectual property protection in China
Enforcement and implementation of intellectual property laws in China.
The article concludes that despite the difficulties involved with IPR protection laws in China, the Chinese Government has made tremendous progress with reform and enforcement. The reform process is necessary as a means by which China can comply with its obligations under the TRIPs Agreement and reap the economic and trade benefits of WTO accession. The self interested nature of the reform process has led to significant progress in the reform of China's IP laws and their implementation and enforcement.
If the efforts by the Chinese Government to reform and enforce its IP laws are successful, then it would inspire confidence in the international community in China's ability to protect IPR. Such confidence would encourage further foreign investment and technology transfer. This would assist China in its development as a leading world economy.
For a full copy of the article as it appeared in the March 2003 edition of the Computers & Law Journal, please contact Vincent Liu.
The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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