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This is a comment on a recent news item:|
" China's Ministry of Commerce will further encourage companies to introduce new technology and urge them to make innovation in the next five years.
These are major tasks of the Ministry. The Ministry will issue a policy encouraging the introduction of new technologies and innovation, supporting software export and information services and readjusting catalogues of technologies for import and export.
Bo **, Minister of Commerce, said the action is part of the national strategy to develop science and technology in the 2006-2020 period.
In the next five years, Bo said, the Ministry will render energetic support to the development of famous brands, construction of overseas manufacturing bases and formation of a public business information system. Some 100 technological bases and 1,000 technological companies will be chosen as pilots."
Viewing from the outside, there appears to be very serious shortcomings in what Chinese entities know about IP, and in how to use IP to compete effectively in the modern world. Some examples include:
(a) Bosses Are Not Always Inventors.
In patents, we still see "Ling Dao" (enterprise leaders) automatically listed as inventors, or at least co-inventors. Granted this has historically been an issue with patents coming out of Taiwan and Hong Kong. Chinese bosses just cannot resist the glamour of having their names listed as inventors on patents. But incorrect inventorship kills patents, and the vanity can jeopardize the IP rights of Chinese enterprises.
(b) Quality of Patent Drafting.
Moreover, all patents are not created equal. Patents are offensive in nature. They are of value only if they can stand up to challenge in court when the patents are enforced. Patent applications drafted in China and then translated into foreign languages for filing overseas are of uneven quality. Often they do not appear to have been drafted with eventual enforcement in mind. Spending tens of millions on research, and then failing at patent protection because of poor drafting, is simply not a smart way of doing things. China’s patent drafting industry needs a major upgrade.
(c) Low Level of Working Knowledge of IP.
Overall, the impression is that while Mainland Chinese businessmen are very good at pricing competition, they are very weak on the use of IP. Low prices garner sales, but not ample profits. Language barriers and lack of affordable access to Chinese speaking IP advisors have limited the ability of Chinese businessmen in learning how to use IP as effective tools in international competition.
What could be done?
1. Raise the Standard in Patent Prosecution.
The Ministry should ask the powers that be (Is it the Ministry of Justice?) responsible for the patent industry in China, to urge the adoption of international standards in patent drafting, at least for patents intended for filing overseas. Luckily there are actually just a very limited number of annually updated treatises in the whole world on how to draft patents (as patent law is national in nature, you would need one treatise per jurisdiction). Mandating that each Chinese patent agent or patent attorney's office must stock these treatises (at least those from the important markets such as the EU, USA, and Japan) would be a good start. Better yet, the Ministry should invite these treatise authors (recognized foreign patent experts) to help train an entire generation of China’s patent drafters.
2. Build a FAQ for IP.
Minister Bo should "draft" into the Ministry’s service Chinese speaking IP lawyers from overseas to give introductory presentations on IP in Chinese language, and make such presentations available on the Ministry’s websites to Chinese business enterprises. For example, the presentations can be issue based, in FAQ format (e.g., “Who owns the trademark, the manufacturer or the distributor?” could be the subject of a short, 5 minute recorded presentation in downloadable audio or even video form, etc.). This FAQ should become part of the public business information system. If the Ministry comes up with a list of question, it should not be hard to get input from Chinese speaking IP lawyers worldwide.
3. Make Available Legal Consultation on Foreign IP.
To take it a step further, the Ministry can make arrangements with Chinese speaking IP lawyers from overseas to provide "free initial consultations” in China. For example, this service can be made available to Chinese business enterprises, through the use of free VOIP or video conference links accessible from the Ministry’s website. In many countries, because of competition, lawyers will give free initial consultations to prospective clients. By bringing such free professional consultation to China's businessmen’s doorsteps, through the use of internet technology, the Ministry can quickly raise the IP awareness of Chinese business entities.
[ Last edited by tongluren at 2006-1-20 02:27 AM ]