It is uncontroversial to say that, in years gone by, the reputation of China in the realm of IP protection and enforcement was far from good. Rightly or wrongly, the themes that were commonly associated with China included trademark squatting and counterfeiting. Concerns about IP practices even sparked the recent trade dispute between the US and China, and US authorities have been clamping down on alleged trade secrets theft by Chinese nationals.
Chinese IP specialists would probably admit that there have been problems with their system. But then again which IP jurisdiction doesn't have its faults? Whatever they might be. What's more the Chinese IP regime is less mature than those of many of its Western counterparts. For example, China only joined WIPO in 1980, 10 years after the US and the UK. To put things in context further, China is not only the world's most populous country but one of the largest by area too, so it's inevitable that progress would take longer than elsewhere.
Now, almost 40 years after China joined WIPO, it's fair to say that China is making some serious strides in reforming its IP regime. In 2018 the agency previously known as the State Intellectual Property Office was renamed as the China National Intellectual Property Administration. The new office has been restructured so that patents, utility models, designs, trademarks and geographical indications are all handled under one roof, instead of being governed by different authorities. In addition, there is now a specialist IP Tribunal at the Supreme People's Court (SPC), while a reform of the country's Patent Law is underway. Just recently several CNIPA consultations, including those on bad-faith trademarks, were made open to the public.
These are just some of the examples of how China is clearly taking IP seriously. In the following pages you can read expert articles on the most pressing IP topics, including reforms, SPC cases and customs actions. We hope you enjoy hearing from those closest to the action, and we hope you find this supplement insightful.