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Harsher punishments await IPR violators, regulator vows

Updated: Nov 26, 2019 By Cao Yin China Daily Print
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A senior inventor shows his official patent certificates for his innovations in boilers. [Photo provided for China Daily]

China's top intellectual property regulator on Monday pledged harsher punishment against violators to strictly protect intellectual property rights and effectively optimize the business environment.

To build an overall IPR protection system, the country has intensified efforts to fight IPR infringement by raising fines and increasing inspections on counterfeit goods, according to Gan Shaoning, deputy head of the National Intellectual Property Administration.

In December, for example, a draft revision to the Patent Law raised fines to a range of 100,000 yuan ($14,480) to 5 million yuan when the loss to patent holders and the benefits gained by violators cannot be determined. The current range is 10,000 yuan to 1 million yuan.

The draft was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, for first review. In general, a draft will become law after being reviewed three times.

Further, the fine for those who maliciously damage others' trademarks has increased to 5 million yuan from 3 million yuan since the revised Trademark Law came into effect on Nov 1.

"The measures will help alleviate the major problem of low compensation for victims of IPR infringement," said Song Jianhua, head of the administration's regulatory division, which is tasked with meeting requirements in a newly disclosed directive on IP protection.

The directive, passed in July during a meeting of the Central Committee for Deepening Overall Reform headed by President Xi Jinping, stipulates such increases in fines should be accelerated for patent and copyright protection.

Gan said the administration will create and improve related regulations based on strict laws to further satisfy high-quality development and create a business environment with a better respect for knowledge.

Li Fengxian, a Beijing lawyer specializing in IPR disputes, applauded the harsh punishments and called the increasing fines a bigger threat to infringers.

"Litigants often face difficulties in offering sufficient evidence to prove their IPR had been infringed upon in practice, and it is very hard to calculate their economic losses in many cases," she said.

"If we still hesitate to give timely protection to patent or trademark holders in these situations, their IPR will be further harmed," she added.

Ma Yide, a law professor at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, agreed, saying increasing fines will contribute to effectively protecting IPR and innovations.

"But most importantly, enterprises should improve their capability of protecting their own IPR," he added.

Besides the increased fines, the directive states that the government plans to curb the frequent occurrence of IP rights infringements across the country by 2022.

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