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Industry groups seek to stem IP violations in China

Posted: 27 Oct 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wto? china? intellectual property? ip? trips?

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative has initiated a review under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules to probe Chinas intellectual property enforcement efforts. Industry groups applauded the move.

The U.S. is utilizing a process established under provisions of the WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips). Among other things, the process enables WTO members to request information regarding judicial decisions or administrative rulings in the area of IP rights that affect that enforcement under the Trips agreement.

A copy of the request is available on USTRs Web site, and the U.S. expects China to respond in about three months.

China has come under increasing scrutiny from industry groups for its inadequate enforcement of IP laws.

"The United States is deeply concerned by the violations of intellectual property efforts in China," said U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, in a statement. "Based on all available information, piracy and counterfeiting remain rampant in China despite years of engagement on this issue. If China believes that it is doing enough to protect intellectual property, then it should view this process as a chance to prove it case, he added.

A report issued by the USTR dated April 29, 2005, said infringement levels for virtually all IP in China exceeded 90 percent, and criticized the Chinese government for being unwilling to provide sufficiently detailed enforcement information.

As a consequence, USTR intends to invoke Article 63.3 in the Trips agreement.

Last month, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said the United States would seek to step up enforcement of IP laws, and cited China as one of the biggest offenders along with Brazil, India and Russia.

International efforts to curb IP abuse in China are also mounting. Besides the U.S., Japan and Switzerland have requested more information about Chinas IP protection measures under the Trips.

The Semiconductor Industry Association, while acknowledging IP violations in China remain a huge problem, expressed hope that a concerted global effort to probe Chinas IP protection measures would help Chinese officials seeking to improve enforcement.

"China has enacted a number of laws to protect intellectual property, including a law to protect semiconductor layout designs," SIA president George Scalise said in a statement. "Enforcement of IP protection laws has been widely recognized as falling short of what is needed to deter violations. In some cases, penalties for violation of IP rights are so light that they are considered to be a routine cost of doing business."

"We are hopeful that a systematic collection of the penalties meted out for IP violations will pressure those regions within China where the penalties are insufficient to deter counterfeiting," Scalise added.

- Spencer Chin

EE Times

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