China launches campaign to protect foreign intellectual property rights as US probes alleged thefts – 20 Sep 2017

  • China has launched a four-month campaign to protect the intellectual property rights of foreign businesses, a move that may alleviate a major concern among foreign investors on the mainland and appease Washington ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing.
  • It is the first time the Chinese government has started a nationwide campaign to protect foreign businesses’ intellectual property. The drive, which runs from Sep-end Dec 17, is designed to “create a level playground”, protect investors’ legitimate interests and “further increase foreign investment”, according to a notice released by the Ministry of Commerce earlier this week.
  • In addition to the commerce ministry, another 12 Chinese government and judicial bodies, including the Ministry of Public Security and the Supreme Court, are taking part in the campaign to crack down on the theft of trade secrets, trademark infringement, patent violations and online property rights violations.
  • Foreign direct investment in China dropped 6.5% y/y to USD2.1bn Jan-Jul 17, according to commerce ministry data.
  • China’s intellectual property rights protection measures frequently draw complaints from foreign investors and have been a long-standing focus of attention at annual talks with the US and Europe.
  • Trump in Aug 17 signed a memorandum instructing US trade representative Robert Lighthizer to investigate China’s “unfair trade practices” to protect US technology.
  • IPR protection also is likely to remain on the agenda during Trump’s first China visit in Nov 17.

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