Advancements in Intellectual Property Law in China: A Shift towards Legal Protection
In recent times, global observers of intellectual property law developments are noting significant strides by the Chinese government to establish a robust IP rights framework in what is ostensibly a Communist nation. Recent headlines from China underscore the government’s ongoing efforts to enhance the prospects of copyright owners, both foreign and domestic, operating within its borders.
Lego’s Legal Victory in China
On November 5th, Bloomberg reported that Danish toy manufacturer Lego secured a legal triumph in Chinese courts against several domestic litigants involved in selling copyright-infringing building blocks and miniature figures under the Lepin brand. The Guangzhou Yuexiu District Court awarded Lego 4.5 million yuan (almost $650,000) in damages, marking another intellectual property rights victory for Lego in China.
Karaoke Copyright Issues
Chinese state news media on November 7th reported that the China Audio-Video Copyright Association (CAVCA) directed a major karaoke service provider and other karaoke box operators to remove 6,609 songs due to copyright concerns. The NCA’s efforts also included the removal of 570,000 short videos from 15 Chinese online video-sharing platforms. This proactive approach aims to ensure proper authorization from copyright owners for the content published on these platforms.
China’s Changing Stance on IP Protection
These developments signify a shift in China’s approach to intellectual property, historically known for its significant contributions to global IP theft. The recent actions align with President Xi Jinping’s declaration last July that “IP infringers will pay a substantial price.” Analyzing China’s IP profile from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 IP Index reveals that recent copyright initiatives address specific shortcomings in China’s IP framework, particularly in providing quick injunctive relief and disabling infringing content online.
Contrasting Approaches: China vs. the United States
While the United States maintains a substantial lead in copyright and overall IP rights compared to China, there is a notable disparity in how these two major economies treat patent owners. China has not only taken steps to address copyright issues but has also supported patent owners through policy changes, such as extended exclusivity periods for drug patents and incentives for inventors. In contrast, the United States grapples with challenges, including a Supreme Court reluctant to address patentability issues in software and biomedical fields.