The 2018 Report on the Latest Development of IPR Protection and Business Environment in China released

(photo from china.com.cn)

On May 15, the Office of the National Leading Group on Fight against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting held a press conference. Gan Lin, Head of the Office and Deputy Head of State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) announced the release of 2018 Report on the Latest Development of IPR Protection and Business Environment in China. The report elaborates China’s new measures, progress and results in terms of IPR protection and optimization of the business environment in 2018 in a comprehensive and systematic way.

Regarding the constantly deepened reform, more focuses were given on improving top-level design and promoting the institutional innovation. In 2018, when the structural reform was carried out, the responsibilities of IPR administrative management were optimized and integrated. In particular, the State Administration for Market Regulation was newly established and the National Intellectual Property Administration of China was reorganized to unify the administrative management and law enforcement in trademark and patents. The period of IPR examination was greatly shortened. The average pendency of trademark registration was compressed to 6 months, and that of high-value patents was reduced by 10%. The IPR administrative and institutional fees were greatly reduced. The access to the patent agency industry was eased. Major breakthroughs were made in trial reform of IPR cases. The Supreme People’s Court established an IPR court. There are currently 17 higher courts, 113 intermediate courts and 129 local courts in China that have implemented the “three in one” reform of IPR-related civil, administrative and criminal cases trial. Focusing on elimination of the blocks and pains in the investment and production of enterprises, a series of policies and documents have been introduced, including the reform of “separation of licenses and operating permits”, optimizing the business environment at ports, reducing the length of time for starting businesses and encouraging the foreign investment, so as to further improve the policy environment for corporate development and create a more fair, transparent and attractive investment environment.

Regarding the IPR protection, the administrative law enforcement and judicial protection have been significantly enhanced. In 2018, the administrative law enforcers nationwide investigated and handled 215,000 cases about IPR infringement and counterfeiting, among which 77,000 were patent infringement cases,31,000 were trademark-related illegal cases and over 2,500 were about copyright infringement and piracy cases. The Customs system investigated and confiscated 47,200 batches of exported and imported IPR infringing goods in total, containing 24.8 million worth of IPR infringing goods. The public security authorities cracked over 19,000 cases of IPR infringement and counterfeiting. The procurators approved the arrest of 5,627 persons involved in 3,306 criminal cases of IPR infringement. The number of closed cases at the courts nationwide hits 320,000, up 41.6% compared with the previous year. The infringement and counterfeit goods were all destroyed in accordance with the laws, 3,500 tons of such commodities were destroyed in a harmless way nationwide. The timely handling of a large number of IPR infringement cases and the law-based destruction of counterfeit and IPR infringing goods demonstrates the constant position and firm determination of the Chinese government in severely combating the IPR infringement and counterfeiting and protecting the IPRs in accordance with the laws. The Global Innovation Index 2018 issued by WIPO in Jul. 2018 shows that China ranks 17th, up 5 places from the previous year, and gets into the top 20 for the first time in global innovation index report.

Regarding the optimized business environment, the investment trade became more convenient and efficient, the external cooperation became more inclusive and the credit building became more open and transparent. The conduct of one-off joint inspection by customs, frontier inspection and maritime authorities was promoted. The overall time length of import and export customs clearance has been shortened by 56.4% and 61.2% respectively as compared to that of previous year. The time to set up an enterprise was shortened to a significant extent from an average of 20 days in the past to no more than 8 days and a half. The Negative List for Foreign Investment Access (2018) was issued to further ease the market access. Beyond the Negative List, the pre-establishment national treatment was offered to foreign investors according to the principle of equal treatment to domestic and foreign investors. At present, foreign-invested enterprises established via approval procedures account for less than 1%. The reform of “separation of licenses and operating permits” was staged nationwide. The oversight model featuring random selection of both inspectors an inspection targets and prompt release of results was introduced. Joint punishment was carried out by multiple departments over the credit-losing players. The World Bank’s report Doing Business 2019 issued in October 2018 indicates that, China ranks 3rd in the world and the 1st in East Asia and the Pacific in terms of improvement of business environment.

Enhancing the protection of IP is a solemn commitment China has made upon its entry into the WTO, which is also the inherent need for the development of China itself. The protection of IP and the optimization of business environment require all countries in the world to cooperate closely. Looking into the future, China will always align with the internationally prevailing rules to protect IP according to law and treat equally both domestic and foreign investors, crack down hard on IP infringement and counterfeiting and foster an international first-level business environment. China will thoroughly deliver its commitment and international obligations, firmly uphold the multilateral trade system and resolutely oppose unilateralism and trade protectionism, with a view to promoting sustainable economic prosperity across the world.

(Source: Office of the National Leading Group on Fight against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting)