On June 8, 2004, the Italian and Chinese governments entered into an agreement that addresses the protection of intellectual property rights. It also establishes cooperation between the competent authorities of both countries.

The agreement, signed by the Italian Minister of Productive Activities Antonio Marzano and Head of the Chinese State Intellectual Property Office Wang Jingchuan, sets up a liaison among the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese competent authorities. Based on the cooperation, still to be defined in detail, of the contracting parties in the sphere of intellectual property protection, there are several changes that will affect multinationals working in these markets. The agreement covers the following:

  • Coordination of the issues related to intellectual property protection during implementation of the cooperation in the sphere of economy, trade, science, technology and culture as well as the assistance in the conclusion of the agreements on cooperation in the field of intellectual property protection between the corresponding bodies and organisations of both states

  • Exchange of information on the relevant legislation, industrial property information as well as the experience in its handling and use

  • Exchange of the experience in organization and operation of collective copyright management

  • Training of the personnel involved in the sphere of intellectual property protection and exchange of the experience in this area

  • Exchange of views on major issues related to the development of the international intellectual property system; exchange of the experience in international cooperation as well as information on participation of each country in the multilateral international treaties in the sphere of intellectual property protection and implementation of these treaties; and exchange of information and cooperation in facing infringement of intellectual property rights.

Further to the evaluation of the content of the agreement, it shall provide a wider protection to the entities intending to settle their business activities within the Chinese territory, reducing the risk of IP rights infringement that are used to negatively affect the commercial strategies of outside entrepreneurs. In particular, Italy and China have agreed to provide effective protection, in compliance with their respective legislation, to the intellectual property rights created or obtained by individuals and legal persons or other organizations in the framework of bilateral agreements of Italy and China.

The agreement provides that the relevant subjects of the state of one party have on the territory of the other party are the same rights in the sphere of the protection of intellectual property, ensured by the state correspondingly to individuals and commercial entities or other organizations in accordance with the legislation and practice of this state. The agreement provides a certain degree of protection to confidential information. In this respect it states that if a bilateral convention envisages the providing of confidential information and/or the creation or use of intellectual property objects in respect of which the confidentiality should be kept, the corresponding contracts contain the provisions on confidentiality preservation. In these cases, the corresponding organizations of Italy and China undertake the commitments to confidentiality preservation in accordance with the provisions of the respective legislation of the states under reference as well as the agreed points fixed in the contracts and agreements

Further to the signature of the agreement and in compliance with the principles stated, two government delegations belonging to Italy and China respectively, met in Rome in June 17, 2004, in order to discuss and study the technical aspects of trademark and design protection in China.

As confirmed by the secretary of the Italian Ministry of Productive Activities, another meeting between Italy and China has already been scheduled for November 2004. Among the various issues proposed as topics of further discussion, the Italian delegation suggested the exchange of information on the Madrid Protocol, design protection and board of appeals while China proposed the cooperation on the training of small- and medium-sized companies in the sphere of industrial property legislation. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.