Chang’s work has helped communicate a
lot of Chinese regulation
While the opportunities in China's rapidly growing economy
continue to draw the attention of international companies, its
reputation for difficult IP enforcement still makes rights
holders wary. Jack Chang, senior IP counsel at GE and a
self-described "front-line IP soldier", has worked to make
China a more IP-friendly place.
To this end, Chang and the Quality Brands Protection
Committee (QBPC), an industry group with over 200
multinational members, has not only lobbied for laws and
regulations protecting IP rights, he has also worked to
lines of communication between foreign companies and the
government to build working relationships and clear up
misconceptions that might hinder foreign investment.
"The QBPC tries to be a bridge between foreign companies and
the Chinese government", says Chang.
He points to one example where the QBPC played an important
role in helping foreign companies improve their understanding
of China. In 2010, the QBPC engaged the Ministry of Science and
Technology concerning the so-called indigenous innovation
policies, which would have required government procurement to
favour products based on Chinese-developed IP. Chang and the
QBPC helped convince the government that such policies could
"also negatively impact on China's efforts to become an
innovative country, as it discourages foreign companies in
investing in R&D".
Finally in January 2011, President Hu Jintao announced that
the rules would be discarded. Various ministries issued orders
in June 2011 to implement Hu's directive, and eventually, the
State Council issued its own order announcing the end of the
"We had heard
concerns that the Chinese government had been
pressuring foreign companies to transfer their
technologies to local firms"
Chang said, however, that some foreign trade associations
were still reporting in early 2012 that the rules were in
effect at a local level, causing concern that foreign companies
were operating at a disadvantage. The QBPC quickly moved to
address these misperceptions, and also worked with both Chinese
and foreign government officials to dispel any
"One of our most important tasks is to keep foreign
companies in the loop," says Chang. He sees the QBPC's
continuing role of communicator as its most vital.
As foreign companies increase investment in China,
technology transfers issues are increasingly important.
"Foreign IP owners often worry whether their technology is
protected when they bring it into China, and are sometimes
hesitant to license their technology to local companies," says
"We had heard concerns that the Chinese government had been
pressuring foreign companies to transfer their technologies to
local firms in exchange for market access", he said, though
after thorough investigation, he found no evidence of this.
Still, Chang sees this belief as an obstacle to investment
and is working to address both the perception and the reality.
He and the QBPC are working with a number of academics in
Beijing, as well as courts in southern China.
"GE and other innovation-driven companies care very much
about this issue," he says. "I believe that one way to address
the US-China trade imbalance is to promote the technology trade
between the two countries, so we need to address these concerns
to remove obstacles in technology transfer and to continuously
work with the government to foster open innovation and improve
Chang's influence on IP in China has grown and evolved, much
like the QBPC's role. Though the group was initially named the
China Anti-counterfeiting Coalition and started with this
narrower purpose, the relationships that Chang has built have
allowed the group to represent IP owners in a wide variety of
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