China, Global Trade and IP, IPR enforcement, Piracy, Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Contrary to Popular Belief, China Ain’t No Slacker in the IPR Enforcement Department

recent article about China’s crackdown on IP piracy claims that the country’s ongoing and continuous efforts are already showing good results; when compared to the figures of last year, a definite decline in piracy has been reported. The claim seems a trifle contradictory, to say the least, mostly because there is no dearth of news on China’s alleged or proven infringement on one kind of IPR or another. Examples have included the unauthorised replication of complete Apple stores, the discovery of which made headlines last year, as well as the bizarre, yet whimsical story of copycat European cities springing up in the Asian nation. Little wonder then, that such reports of an already-improved IPR enforcement regime might be taken with a pretty large pinch of salt.

The critics of China’s IP regime, however, might have said too much, too soon. For instance, a look at the history of the current intellectual property regime of the developed world shows a similar trend — that these countries, during the Industrial Revolution and the New World eras, did not focus on the protection of IP. Rather, they did what China has so far — they aimed at building their own portfolios first, so that seeking enforcement would ultimately be more efficient and profitable. As this scathing critique of the notion points out, it is ultimately a question of perspective; how adequately a country is protecting and enforcing its own IPRs, as well as those of foreign nations, depends on more than just the country’s “will.” Rather, it’s a question of wants and needs, and whether it is wise to enforce IPRs strictly, at a time when the focus should be on innovation.

Obviously, not everyone has the people, financial and political power to thumb their noses at bigwigs like the WTO, WIPO and the strongest developed nations, but it might be something to consider for the future, as the emerging world becomes more and more entangled in the web of international IP protection regimes, such as the ones spearheaded by the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

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About Mekhala Chaubal

- J.D. Osgoode Hall Law School, Canada; Called to the Ontario Bar (2016) - Co-founder and blogger, IPEye: A blog on intellectual property issues in the emerging world. Check us out! www.ipeyeblog.com

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