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Why China's administrative agencies should not be given new power

A leading Chinese academic has told Managing IP that amendments to the country’s IP laws should strengthen the role of the courts rather than giving more power to local administrative agencies

China is due to revise three major pieces of legislation in the next few years: the Patent, Copyright and Trade Mark Acts.

But Liu Chuntian, professor of law at Renmin University of China and an influential adviser on intellectual property law, said that the changes should ensure that the courts are given more powers to enforce the law.

“There is a push by some administrative agencies to give more power to the local agencies, and I am concerned that this might hurt the balance of power and the rule of law by giving them too much power,” Liu told Managing IP.

“If the local agencies are given more power, there is greater concern for abuse, and that they will set up burdens and hurdles to businesses.”

The vagaries of administrative enforcement in China have long been the subject of complaint among IP owners in China. While many administrative officers work efficiently and effectively, some local agencies have a reputation for protectionism and corruption.

During the interview, Liu also questioned whether SIPO, China’s state intellectual property office, has the necessary clout to oversee the implementation of the country’s National IP Strategy.

He said that SIPO, a body at the vice-ministry level of China’s government, must co-ordinate 29 ministry-level agencies who are putting the strategy into practice.

“Plans like the National IP strategy require a very high level of coordination between the government agencies and I think there are some difficulties in achieving this. Japan has a similar IP strategy, but its plan is led by the Prime Minister’s office, which has a lot more influence than SIPO within the Chinese government,” he said.

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