On August 29th, the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the University of Iowa Law hosted an event designed to explore intellectual property law in China. The purpose of the event was to discuss intellectual property strategies in China, for attorneys and businesses. The audience included practicing attorneys, USPTO members, business people, and law students.
Conceptions about Intellectual Property in China
Overall, the audience was optimistic about the progress of intellectual property rights in China. For example, in a pre-conference poll, 54% of the audience felt that intellectual property rights in China are currently improving, 37% percent believed that intellectual property rights in China were remaining consistent, and only 9 % of the audience felt that intellectual property rights in China were on a decline.
Size and Scope of Intellectual Property in China
The event began with background information on the current state of intellectual property in China. The pure statistics, alone, emphasize the growing importance to businesses for considering intellectual property issues that may arise in China. For example, approximately 15,000 trademarks are registered each day in China. Additionally, in 2017, around 3.5 million patents were filed at the Chinese Patent Office. To put this number in perspective, the USPTO processed only 932,786 patent applications in 2016.
Panel One: An Overview of IP Protection in China
The first panel gave an overview of intellectual property protection in China. This panel, made up of China based practicing attorneys, discussed some of the challenges that arise from working with a different set of IP laws in a different country. The panel highlighted some fundamental differences and similarities between the United States IP systems and the Chinese IP systems. They also stressed the importance of considering language differences (and the related, yet unintended, consequences) when registering intellectual property in China.
Panel Two: IP Enforcement in China
The next panel discussed enforcement of intellectual property in China. This panel, consisting of inhouse and outside counsel, focused on enforcing IP rights form different fields of IP and business perspectives. One major point was that China is currently the most IP litigious country in the world.
Panel Three: IP Enforcement in the US, Against Chinese Actors
The third panel’s topic was enforcing intellectual property rights in the United States against Chinese actors. This panel, which included a federal employee for the FBI, a US attorney, and practicing attorneys based in China, began with the criminal perspective of enforcing intellectual property rights. It included discussion about how the FBI and State Department can work with a business to stop criminal misappropriation of intellectual property from US businesses. This panel also discussed the benefits and detriments of using civil litigation versus using the International Trade Commission to protect US intellectual property from foreign actors.
Panel Four: Intellectual Property in China, and it’s Relation to Iowa
The final panel focused on intellectual property issues in China that related to Iowa. This panel included a federal judge, and inhouse and outside counsel. It focused on cases and companies in Iowa and their experiences with doing business in China. The importance of these issues is emphasized by the fact that the second leading country for Iowan exports is China.
The Roadshow gave a great overview of China IP strategies for businesses. The final message reiterated how quickly IP law is changing throughout the world and the importance of keeping up with the latest trends.