Intellectual property protection is an important part of a sound business environment. As of the end of 2022, the number of valid invention patents owned by foreign entities in China reached 861,000, a 4.5% jump year-on-year, involving 58,000 foreign companies, an increase of 2,000 from the previous year. The number of valid registered trademarks owned by foreign entities hit 2.03 million, up 5.9%. Foreign interests' greater IPR footprints in China, as revealed at a recent SCIO (State Council Information Office) press conference on IP statistics of 2022, indicated IPR has continued to exert its role in boosting high-level opening up.
"As far as IPR protection concerns, the Chinese government always treats local and foreign companies on equal footing." These welcome numbers has given strong proof that IPR protection has created conditions for foreign businesses to fly, said Zhang Zhicheng, Director General of Intellectual Property Protection Department of the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA).
Multiple measures to protect rights and interests
In recent years, the CNIPA has enacted a number of measures to protect foreign investors' legitimate rights and interests in IPRs.
In terms of rapid and coordinated protection, the CNIPA established 10 additional National IP Protection Centers/Rapid Enforcement Centers, bringing the total to 97. These centers provide the same rapid and coordinated protection services to domestic and foreign/joint ventures registered with them. As of date, there are over 2,900 foreign/joint ventures registered with these centers nationwide.
Regarding administrative protection, the CNIPA followed strict protocols to handle foreign-related IP disputes. As a matter of fact, the complainants of the first two groups of major patent infringement disputes happened to be foreign companies. CNIPA's work on the cases timely curbed infringing acts and sparked warm comments from the industry.
As to cooperation and communication, the CNIPA has worked closely with the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Commerce and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade in hearing opinions and suggestions of foreign ventures on IP protection, attending to their problems and difficulties and responding to their requests. The CNIPA has also organized the compilation of English newsletters on China's IPR protection and distributed to more than 340 chambers of commerce in over 70 countries through the global network of the China Chamber of International Commerce, giving foreign companies a first-account elaboration of the status quo of IPR protection in China. In addition, the administration has told China's IPR story to the world through the Innovation and Intellectual Property Protection Conference of Boao Forum for Asia, Shanghai International Intellectual Property Forum, Qingdao Multinationals Summit and other events, enhancing the optics of solid protection.
Business environment acknowledged
In recent years, China's IPR protection environment has been acknowledged by a slew of foreign businesses.
"Equal and strict IPR protection will further enhance the long-term confidence of foreign enterprises' investment in China," said Ann Chaplin, General Counsel of Qualcomm at 2022 High-level Forum on China IP Protection. Qualcomm has built some joint innovation laboratories on 5G, internet of things, extended reality and other innovative fields to help Chinese enterprises seize new opportunities. In recent years, Qualcomm has invested in more than 70 Chinese start-ups. China's firm determination to further strengthen IP protection has played a crucial role in inspiring domestic innovation and attracting foreign investment, according to Chaplin.
"IP protection is always on the road. In future, the CNIPA will further strengthen the IP protection by improving its efficiency and bolster a market-oriented, law-based and international-oriented first-class business environment. We believe that China will become a hot spot for foreign investment in the long term and foreign ventures will have a better future here," Zhang concluded.