Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Taiwan Shining Intellectual Property Blueprint For China Or Wishful Thinking?

What works for Taiwan, 
does (not)
necessarily works for China,
and vice versa.
During the press conference for the "Piracy Out, Competitiveness Up" campaign in Taipei (Taiwan) the chief secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Hung Shu-min said that Taiwan could be a model worth modelling for China in regard to bringing down business software piracy levels. Read Stacey Wu and Deborah Kuo's article for Focus Taiwan here.

In the Eighth Annual BSA Global Piracy Study (released last May, 2011) Taiwan scored third best in Asia. Taiwan's business software piracy rate 37 percent (2010), four percentage points lower than in 2006. Only Japan scored better (20 percent) and Singapore (34 percent) in 2010. Taiwan scored better than Hong Kong (45 percent). Taiwan's relative low piracy has probably enhanced foreign investments in research and development. China still has still a serious business computer piracy issue 78 percent in 2010.

However, between 2006 and 2010 China also reduced its business software piracy rate with four percentage points (from 82 percent in 2006 to 78 percent in 2010). So relatively China reduced business software piracy as much as Taiwan.

China's Three Experimental Gardens
But I agree that the People's Republic of China is in a unique situation where it has the opportunity to look at  a variety of Chinese communities with very different systems, and pick and choose the best from each system. I am sure Beijing is already keeping a good eye on Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

The question is whether the measures that worked in Taiwan will work on the Mainland too. To name one huge difference: size. If your territory is not as humongous as China's, like Taiwan's modest size (or much smaller Singapore) each problem is easier to fix. On the island of Taiwan the local and national nearly coincide. One can argue that in China all problems are getting aggravated because the tension between the local and national interests. Taiwan's legal system, and policy is very different from that of China. But learning from each other's successes and mistakes seems a good way to make a shortcut to progress.

Do you think China can emulate Taiwan's anti-piracy system? Or do you think each system is well tuned to its unique situation and to transplant a different legal system and policies are not recommended?

Ronald Yu, lecturer University of Hong Kong wrote on personal title, via email:
"I remember that when I first went to Taiwan you could buy lots of fake goods - fake shoes, pirated recordings, etc. but it has since cleaned up a lot. I have thought, for some time, that Taiwan could act as a barometer for China's future, and if my assumption holds, perhaps China shall soon have a very clean, effective IP regime."

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