Thursday, May 04, 2006

Intellectual Property of German Train Gone With The Wind

Deutsche Welle wrote China Masters German Train Technology, Will Cut Costs.
Transrapid International, a German consortium between ThyssenKrupp and Siemens, had designed and built the magnetic levitation (maglev) trains.

"China operates the world's only commercial MAGLEV line, which runs 30 kilometers from Shanghai's airport to the financial center in the Pudong district." See, here.

Transrapid has already signed a deal to be involved in the new maglev line from Shanghai to Hangzhou. According to the China Daily Zhang Xiaqiang, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that costs were expected to fall now that China mastered the German technology. Implied is that Transrapid's role is to be scaled back.

"The China Daily said the State Council, China's cabinet, was encouraging engineers to "learn and absorb foreign advanced technologies while making further innovations.""

After learning and absorbing, the China Aviation Industry Corporation has said it will build a new Chinese Zhui Feng (Hunt the Wind) magnetic train.

Hunt the Wind

The reaction of the Bavarian premier Edmund Stoiber was:
"What's happening in China smells suspiciously like technology theft." Stoiber has suggested putting the issue of Chinese development and intellectual property protections on the agenda of the next G8 meeting.

The head of ThyssenKrupp, Ekkehard Schulz said:
"It appears that some Chinese patents overlap quite a bit with our own."

Manik Mehta wrote in Der Spiegel article Technologie-Klau in China: Kampf den Kopisten that the Chinese minister of foreign affairs Li Zhaoxing had assured his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier that no patents of Transrapid were infringed. Steinmeier reacted that they the intellectual property rights and its protection deviate. Read more here (in German).

The China Aviation Industry Corporation is denying that Zhui Feng's technology is dependent on foreign technology. "It is much lighter than the Transrapid product and features a much more advanced design."

Airbus take heed

Chinese Aviation Industry Corporation's strategy seems to be: Learn and absorb, cut costs and improve, and after technology transfer it's time for good bye. Aircraft manufacturer Airbus, just like Transrapid International a consortium, is already manufacturing big part of planes in Asia. Airbus, in cut-throat competition with Boeing, will start to manufacture complete aircrafts in China as of 2008. But China has already announced it will launch its own version of jumbo sized airplane. So Airbus is already warned for any future IPR infringments.

Read the DW article here.

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