China vows to tighten controls over intellectual property

BEIJING • China will tighten controls over intellectual property to provide better opportunities for foreign firms, the commerce ministry said yesterday.

The government's crackdown on intellectual property violations will focus on trademark registration abuse and business secret theft, Mr Wang Shouwen, a vice-commerce minister said at a press briefing in Beijing, adding that China's intellectual property protection was "not perfect" as a developing country.

US President Donald Trump this month authorised an inquiry into China's alleged theft of intellectual property - the first direct trade measure by his administration against Beijing.

China's Cabinet issued guidelines earlier this month to promote foreign investment, which promised to reduce market entry barriers and offer fiscal policy support for foreign firms operating in the country amid rising criticism that their business environment is deteriorating.

Details of the measures and a specific timetable for implementation will be announced by the end of next month, Mr Wang said.

Foreign direct investment into China fell 11.8 per cent in last month from a year earlier to 43.88 billion yuan (S$8.95 billion), according to Reuters calculation.

Mr Wang's remarks came one day after a Chinese court awarded US athletics shoemaker New Balance about US$1.5 million in copyright damages over its famous "N" logo.

A court in the eastern city of Suzhou ruled that three defendants, who made shoes under the brand New Boom, "acted in concert to infringe" the rights of the US firm.

The judges noted the almost perfect similarity of the logos, along with other factors, and concluded that the counterfeit products could be "easily confused" with the authentic US shoes.

The court ordered the three - entrepreneur Zheng Chaosong and the Xinpingheng and Bosidake companies - jointly to pay about 10 million yuan in damages.

The judgment is a very rare victory for a Western brand in an intellectual property infringement case in China, and the damages are far larger than usually granted by Chinese courts.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2017, with the headline 'China vows to tighten controls over intellectual property'. Print Edition | Subscribe