A perplexing problem that is garnering much attention is the matter of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). There has been considerable progress made on this subject over the last few years but a vast chasm separates China from the rest of the world. When we closely examine some of the measures taken recently, it gives hope that there is potential resolution to some of the major problems in dealing with IPR.

Improving protection of intellectual property rights is the United States government’s highest priority in its economic relationship with China. Each year the American Embassy sponsors a roundtable on IPR attended by hundreds of US investors.

It must be noted that China is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Paris Convention of Industrial Property, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Madrid Trademark Convention, the Universal Copyright Convention and the Geneva Phonograms Convention. As of June 9, 2007, China fully complies with the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. Its accession was expected in 2006, but China acceded on March 9, 2007.

In spite of all the alliances and the progress this decade, the United States Trade Representative states that China fails to enforce intellectual property rights. Copyrights, inventions, brands, and trade secrets are routinely stolen. Intellectual piracy is one of China’s greatest hurdles to becoming a trusted member of the world’s economic community. The rules and penalties for the piracy of intellectual property rights remain mild and very lenient.

Recent developments indicate that China is accelerating its attention to IPR. China increasingly recognizes that IPR protection is just as important for their own industry. The scrutiny of world press surrounding the 2008 Olympics has added to the urgency of China’s compliance with international law.


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