September 20, 2017, 10:12 PM, Wednesday
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Feather in a Cap: Remarkable Growth of China in IPRs

- Sumit Sonkar, New Delhi

September 20

In a knowledge based economy,it is highly desirable that the new economic drivers of the 21st century such as intellectual property rights (IPRs) should be harnessed to stimulate the economic growth and foster social well-being. Unfortunately, the developing countries are still struggling to optimally use the IPRs for economic development and resource creation. However, much responsibility lies upon the government to promote and create conducive environment to capitalise on IPRs economic value to drive productivity and income growth while maintaining critical strategic competitiveness in a market driven world. To effectuate this, governments have to devise IPRs strategies and also adopt IPRs internationally established standards so as to develop policies which proactively promote the innovation culture in their respective economies with inclusivity of public interests. In that direction, China’s efforts are commendable as it is putting conscious and serious efforts to protect IPRs which are also benefitting Chinese companies tremendously. In the last few years, China has not only strengthened its IPRs policy but also created specialised courts to adjudicate on IPRs disputes which are unique in its own way.As a result of these measures, according to the global innovation index, China is now among the world's elite 25 innovative economies for the first time in modern history. Moreover, China is also putting extensive efforts to tackle IPRs infringements and making its protection more cost effective for the concerned interested parties.

Bringing Back Golden Days of China

Ancient China was a powerful innovation hub, which has given an array of inventions from printing techniques to compass to the world for the betterment of humankind but regrettably, the same passion for developing inventions subdued with the passage of time. To bring back the ancient glory of innovation culture, China is heavily investing in R&D which is finally perceptible in the high projectile development of cutting-edge technologies and cross-discipline areas of economy. It was only a few years back that one of the most crucial challenges for the foreign commercial entities for doing business in China was how to protect their inventions and technologies within the existing China’s legal framework.The root cause of that apprehension which inhibited the companies to explore the Chinese market for long was that China did not have effective enforcement mechanism to protect IPRs. But now, according to the patent application filing report of WIPO, China has outstripped the combined total to its next-closest follower, the United States which indicates that China has considerably improved its innovation ecosystem to protect the IPRs. The stated WIPO statistics manifest that more and more Chinese companies are filing applications for patents and becoming patent holders therefore, Chinese government could not afford to overlook the interests of Chinese companies to protect their IPRs. So, it was in China’s overall economic interests to take concrete measures to protect IPRs more efficiently and effectively.

A Model for Developing Countries

Though China is putting serious and discernable efforts to make IPRs system more transparent and fairer for every foreign and domestic entity but still, it has a long way to go to achieve a level playing field for every stakeholders functioning in Chinese market. Most importantly, China has the potential to change the gloomy scenario into a win-win situation. Developing countries especially India, though doing well (in the recent global innovation index India jumped to 66th place from last year's 81st ranking of efficient innovators) should also streamline its IPRs process and create favourable environment for companies by removing unreasonable regulations and requirements affecting the registration of IPRs while incorporatingeffective public interests measures so that aspirations of creating more healthy and efficient economy can be translated into a reality within less duration of time and less efforts. The recent announcement of the Indian government flagship program ‘Start Up India’ to build a strong eco-system to nurture innovation is a right step in the right direction, though more is required to be done to address the structural realties and providing adequate resources and financial support to various research institutions is one among them. India’s research institutions are unable to do fundamental research in critical areas due to paucity of funds. Infusing the research institutions with much needed financial support and resources can definitely go in long way to facilitate and propel ‘Start Up India’campaign to a great extent. After all,the influx of government funding is precursor in pursuit of long-term knowledge development. For instance, of lately China is throwing more of its economic resources into R&D programs to promote and encourage fundamental research at various scientific institutions. Therefore, a world class scientific research environment and state of art facilities will not only attract the researchers and funding locally but will also advance the overall economic interests of the country globally.

In summary, commercialising new ideas to enhance growth through introducing significant yet remarkable changes in the IPRs regime, China has demonstrated a model to the developing countries that can be imitable to be economically advantageous for them. However, blind emulation should be avoided and transplantation of model must be tailored according to the specific social and economic needs of the respective country.

With the help of protection of investment in innovation through IPRs, China has emerged as a driving force in innovation and also making strides to become a technological super power in years to come. Though China has improved its IPRs regime significantly since the country joined WTO in 2001, nevertheless, IPRs enforcement is still a lingering challenge and much more efforts are required through incisive cohesive strategies coupled with robust legal framework to combat IPRs infringements effectively. Having said that, China’s consistent efforts to enormously transform its IPRs regime in a short duration is laudable which certainly will give fillip to innovation in the years to come and it has demonstrated that there is absolutely no reason to doubt that it will not continue to do so in future.

Sonkar is an Assistant Professor of Law at G D Goenka University,National Capital Region of Delhi

In a knowledge based economy,it is highly desirable that the new economic drivers of the 21st century such as intellectual property rights (IPRs) should be harnessed to stimulate the economic growth and foster social well-being. Unfortunately, the developing countries are still struggling to optimally use the IPRs for economic development and resource creation. However, much responsibility lies upon the government to promote and create conducive environment to capitalise on IPRs…

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