SIPO deputy director Zhang Qin was interviewed by Emma Barraclough of Managing Intellectual Property in Geneva.
Zhang said: "[T]he counterfeiting and piracy of copyright and trade marks is illegal and should be punished. We have to be trustable. We want a good market order system – that's the way to develop the economy."
But patents are a bit different, according to Zhang. He gives the argument that developed countries have more money, better education and they start R&D earlier, so they pre-empt this opportunity for developing countries.
In Zhang's words: "So patent infringement can't be viewed in the same way as stealing a car. Technology is an objective thing – there is a better way to do something. Once somebody else has applied for a patent, your effort becomes illegal."
Another argument Zhang makes for the distinction between the infringement of trademark rights and copyrights on the one hand and patent rights on the other is that in China some areas of technology, such as business methods, are rejected as unpatentable. So their alleged infringement not relevant.
Zhang wants to balance the rights of foreign companies, Chinese companies and other people in a fair way. He wants to discuss how to balance interests rather than how to enforce patent infringements.
Read Barraclough's interview about this and Chinese companies preference for utility models and industrial designs instead of invention patents, and the growth in Chinese international patents here.