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Monday Jun 03, 2013

Strengthening Our Engagement with China

Blog by Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO Teresa Stanek Rea

As part of our ongoing engagement with China, the USPTO recently hosted two Chinese delegations and two U.S. delegations. The first delegation included nearly two dozen Chinese IP officials participating in a two-day meeting April 16-17. This meeting of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Working Group was held under the auspices of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), the principal vehicle for the United States and China to discuss trade-related IP issues.

The JCCT U.S. delegation is led by two U.S. Cabinet-level officials—the Commerce Secretary and the United States Trade Representative (USTR)—who meet once a year either in China or the U.S. The JCCT IPR Working Group is one of many interagency working groups within the JCCT, led at the under secretary level by the USPTO and the USTR. The USPTO hosted the first JCCT IPR Working Group meeting nearly 10 years ago, and we were pleased to host our Chinese colleagues once again, as well as members of the U.S. interagency delegation.

The IPR Working Group meeting covered patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret issues that are at the forefront of the U.S./China relationship. In addition, I met individually with Chinese Minister-Counselor for Commercial Affairs Zhang Shaogang, and the Chinese IP attaché in Washington, Chen Fuli. We discussed ongoing and future cooperative efforts, as well as some difficulties that many pharmaceutical and biotech companies are facing at the Chinese patent office.

On April 19, we hosted a delegation of Chinese officials involved in amending China’s copyright law. The seven-member delegation was led by Director General Wang Ziqiang of China’s National Copyright Administration, and included other officials from his office and senior representatives from the National People’s Congress, the State Council Legislative Affairs Office, and the Chinese Embassy.

Copyright and enforcement experts from the USPTO, the U.S. Copyright Office, and the U.S. Department of Justice participated in the all-day meeting, during which I delivered opening remarks. The session allowed U.S. officials to learn more about the latest draft of China’s copyright law amendments now pending at the State Council Legislative Affairs Office, and at the same time permitted the Chinese delegation to become better acquainted with U.S. law and practice.

China intends to amend all of its IP laws in the next few years, and we expect to have periodic technical discussions and expert exchanges with our counterpart agencies during this process. China’s legislature is now reviewing draft revisions to China’s trademark law. We expect that the draft copyright law amendments will be taken up within the next year or two by China’s legislature, and revisions to China’s patent law will likely follow soon after.

We also heard the news that the former minister in charge of China’s National Copyright Administration, Liu Binjie, is now with China’s National People’s Congress where he will continue to be engaged on legislative reform. We welcome continued cooperation with him.

Our engagement with China is indeed broader than a few visits to Washington, D.C. Most recently, I met with the American Chambers of Commerce for China and Shanghai and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discuss USPTO’s activities in China and their concerns. In addition, I look forward to meeting with the head of China’s State Intellectual Property Office, Commissioner Tian Lipu, at a meeting of the five largest patent offices in the world (the “IP5”) in Silicon Valley this week. There we will discuss a range of issues of concern to our offices and stakeholders.

During the past year, we established a dedicated China team at the USPTO, led by our former IP attaché in Beijing, Mark Cohen. The team is staffed by nearly 20 people in both China and the United States. Our IPR attaché program has been expanded to the U.S. embassy in Beijing and to consulates in the cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou. During the summer, we will be sending Joel Blank to serve as our next IP attaché in Beijing, and Timothy Browning to serve in Guangzhou. They will join Dr. Jared Ragland, our current IP attaché in Shanghai.

The USPTO has a stellar team of IP experts, and we do our job best when we work closely with U.S. stakeholders on issues of common concern. Keep us posted on what challenges you are facing in China and globally in protecting your IP.


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