China First adopted copyright laws in the year 1990, and it underwent major changes in the year 2001 to become TRIPS-compliant. The copyright holder need not register themselves in the Office, as these rights flow automatically. Many companies would like to register themselves with the National Copyright Administration of China which ensures ownership and enforcement of their copyright status. Any country which belongs to the Convention or any other bilateral agreement of which China has signed a MOU with would automatically be protected under the Chinese Copyright Laws.
This ensures that all nations that come under the TRIPS agreement are automatically protected under the Chinese’s Copyright Laws. However, the Chinese Government and Law enforcement agencies may be finding it very difficult to enforce copyright laws in the country as copyright is easily violated. This is a problem that the Chinese administration is facing since a long time (DOC, 2003). The Chinese Government also ensures protection of against unfair competition, but the extent of protection offered to unregistered IP and trade secrets may not be sufficient in the country.
The regulatory board of China has to ensure that all information about certain pharmaceutical products and drugs are maintained confidential. The State has developed some kind of protective measures against unfair competition and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce has developed The Fair Trade Bureau to ensure that Competition is conducted in a fair manner in the Chinese market (DOC, 2003). The State Intellectual Property Office in China would be responsible for coordinating and enforcing all the intellectual property laws such as copyrights, trademarks and patents.
This also ensures that any combined or overlapping IP rights are handled effectively. The SIPO even handles implementing the semiconductor design protection statues and managing any international IP issues (DOC, 2003). In China, enforcing and protection of the IP follows two courses, namely, the administrative process and the judicial process. The IP holder if he considers that his rights have been infringed would be complaining to the local administrative office which would then hand over the issue to the Court if it considers that the rights of the IP holder have been violated.
The Chinese judicial system ensures that IP infringement cases are effectively handled through special civil court benches organised throughout the country. The court would specialize in several branches of IP so that effectively the entire spectrum of IP rights is addressed. However, the Chinese administrative and legal setup may experience certain amount of difficulties in transferring the IP conflicts from one administrative unit to another (so that a particular case can address the entire set of infringements that occur throughout the country).
Several law and administrative bodies are present in China to handle IPR issues such as the Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, State Administration on Industry and Commerce (SAIC), General Administration of Customs, Police, prosecutors; Regional IPR Bureau, etc, play a role in enforcing IPR statues and handling infringement cases. The country also ensures that the punishment against IPR rights is stringent (DOC, 2003).
The Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine handles quality standards regarding products and also handles any infringement cases that affect the trademarks or geographic indications in China. The State Administration on Industry and Commerce ensures registration, management and enforcing the trademark statutes of the country and international agreements. Any dispute that arises due to unfair competition is handled by the Fair Trade Bureau. The State Administration on Industry and Commerce has the power to seize all infringing material, impose fines and order their destruction.
Any trade across the border of the infringement goods are stopped by the General Administration of Customs. The Customs have the right to seize and destroy any infringing material. They would also have to check for any legal document that would support transfer of IP-protected material across the borders. Any infringement cases have to be reported to the higher authorities. The police would also perform essential duties in handling IP infringement cases. Their main role would be to seize, confiscate and destroy any IP Infringing material. The prosecutors would also prosecute those guilty of infringing another party’s IP rights.
The regional IP bureaus would ensure that the public is aware of the IP rights. It would conduct several IP programs in companies and conferences. IP Tribunals have been maintained in the Chinese Civil Courts since the year 1993. Most of the Chinese infringement cases are handled in the administrative setup rather than the judicial setup. However, since the implementation of TRIPS and greater recognition of IP rights, many companies are seeking judicial recovery. Hence, there has been a slow rise in the number of judicial cases in China (DOC, 2003).
Another organization known as the Quality Brands Protection Committee (QBPC), helps the Chinese Government by collaborating with them in handling any IPR issues. China has grown unexpectedly in the recent years, and so the IPR issues become more and more serious. The Chinese domestic market is very vast, and besides, China is a manufacturing hub. There are number of illegal units in China which manufacture a huge amount of pirated material and infringing goods such that the Government may have very poor control over them. Such illegal units also find it very easy to transfer the goods across the border, into the other countries.
Hence, the Chinese maintenance of poor IP standards is now causing a huge global concern. There was an urgent need in China to address the IP issue from the private sector, and in such a circumstance, the QBPC has stepped in. It began to function in the year 2000, and was the cause for huge amount of Chinese foreign investment cooperation. Several multinational companies and NGO’s are present in the QBPC to ensure that the corporate sector have an idea of the IP situation in the country. With time, the numbers of companies that are joining the QBPC are increasing. About 70 million dollars is spent on the QBPC.
THE QBPC has been able to achieve a lot in terms of IPR awareness in China. One of the main activities of the QBPC was to create some amount of awareness in the Chinese people by educating them about the importance of IP to the industry. The body also demonstrated the ill-effects of counterfeiting and piracy had over the general health and wellbeing of the people. In the year 2001, the QBPC was able to combine along with several enforcement and judicial bodies. The QBPC was also launching an initiative to appreciate all those IP cases that have created a high benchmark for the IPR standards in China.
The QBPC also trains people in the field of IPR. It also ensures that legal research is conducted in the field of IPR in the country by helping the courts. An organization known as ‘MORO’ would ensure that a cordial relationship between the market and the QBPC is maintained. THE QBPC also ensures that there is a constant flow of positive information between the Chinese authorities and the rest of the World. This information would encourage up gradation of the national IP laws to suit international standards. It would also be acting as an advisory to the Government, judicial bodies and the local system that handles the IP issues.
The QBPC also ensure that the efficiency of any US-based problems would be handled effectively. The QBPC also ensures that the awareness is created in the minds of the public and that organisational evaluation is greatly improved. A joint project with the enforcement committee and the QBPC can also be formed so that effectiveness in handling can be improved. In fact several sub-committees can be formed in the QBPC. These include the enforcement committee, communications committee, customs committee, government cooperation committee, legal committee, services committee, and the patent committee (QBPC, 2007).