Thursday, May 14, 2009

Taylor Wessing Global Intellectual Property Index and China: The Last Shall Be The First

The People's Republic of China was ranked last (24th position) in the Taylor Wessing Global Intellectual Property Index 2009, see here. The methodology of the GIPI rating is a calculation by a factor assessment model with jurisdiction assessments and instrumental factors as input. See the methodology here

About China's trademark system Taylor Wessing complains about the delay in adopting the new Trademark Law which it sees as the solution to the registry delays and backlogs. The time from application to publication of trademarks in China is according to Taylor Wessing currently three years and the duration of opposition procedures up to five years. It says that there is an "absence of any protection for unregistered marks, save the 230 or so marks held to be “famous” (of which only about 20 are foreign), remains a concern for respondents." Taylor Wessing is more positive about China's National IP Strategy and an electronic application system which has cut costs and allocated filing receipts and application numbers quite quickly.

About China's copyright system Taylor Wessing wrote: "China trails overall, as well as for each
of the attacking, enforcing, exploiting and cost-effectiveness subindices." The lack of effective enforcement of copyright is respondents' primary concern, as is bureaucracy associated with giving evidence, and criminal remedies that are perceived as too low, underused and with thresholds set too high, civil and administrative remedies inadequate. Taylor Wessing mentioned also the harsh criticism China received from the USTR in the Special 301 Report. The supporting argument that China faces the "the harshest and most in-depth criticism" because it was covered in 24 pages while the other 45 countries only got 16 pages is not very convincing. It is not the quantity but the quality of the commentary that counts. On a positive note Taylor Wessing acknowledged that the US government considers that progress is being made because China is fulfilling its WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) and WTO TRIPs obligations. 

About design Taylor Wessing wrote that "China’s courts have awarded $3 million to the German
bus maker, Neoplan, in one of the biggest design patent infringement awards since China joined the WTO in 2001." China’s design system which requires annual renewals of designs (plus renewal fees) is seen by respondents as onerous and in need of reform, according to Taylor Wessing.

About China's domain names system Taylor Wessing wrote that although China has liberal registration rules it ranked low, because domain names are extremely cheap to register in China, which has encouraged domain name squatters. Taylor Wessing: "It remains to be seen whether the recent exponential increase in numbers (nearly 90% last year) is an ongoing trend or a spike, and also whether brand owners’ awareness of the issue and increasing interest in doing business in China will lead to them registering more pre-emptive .cn domain name." 

About China's Patent system Taylor Wessing was quite positive: "China certainly has also made significant efforts over the past few years to improve its IP systems." The respondents appreciated China's new specialist IP courts, that are relatively much speedier than before and anticpate the Third Amendment to the Patent Law which will take effect October 1st, 2009 and will introduce the absolute international novelty standard and the possibility of compulsory licensing for patents unused within 3 years of grant. 

I am not sure whether Matthew 20:16 (King James Bible) can bring any consolation for China's low score, but here goes: "So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."

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