Today, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee is holding its 25th group study session on the topic of stepping up intellectual property (IP) protection efforts. Explicit requirements in this regard were put forward in the proposals made at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. The purpose of this group study session is for us to get a sense of the status of China’s IP protection efforts and the tasks therein, to review achievements that have been made, and to feel out areas where improvements are needed. This session also aims to elevate our awareness of the importance of IP protection work, so that we can provide strong guarantees for implementing the new development philosophy, fostering a new development dynamic, and promoting high-quality development by stepping up efforts on this level.
Innovation is the primary driver of development, and protecting IP means protecting innovation. For China to become a strong and fully modern socialist country, it is imperative that we make further progress in IP protection. IP protection has a bearing upon a number of key issues. First, it bears upon the modernization of our national governance system and capacity. Only by rigorously protecting IP can we build a modern property rights system, further reforms for the market-based allocation of factors, and ensure that the market plays the decisive role in resource distribution while the government better plays its role. Second, it bears upon high-quality development. Only by rigorously protecting IP and cracking down hard on market entities and law-breakers that engage in infringement and counterfeiting can we raise the quality of the supply system and push forward high-quality development. Third, it bears upon the happiness and wellbeing of the people. Only by rigorously protecting IP, ridding the consumer market of ill practices, and safeguarding the rights and interests of consumers can we ensure that the people feel at ease about the products they buy and consume. Fourth, it bears upon the big picture of China’s opening up to the outside world. Only by rigorously protecting IP can we improve the business environment and build a new, more open economic system. Fifth, it bears upon national security. Only by rigorously protecting IP can we safeguard indigenous Chinese R&D on core technologies in key fields and forestall and defuse major risks.
Since our 18th National Congress in 2012, I have repeatedly stressed that we need to establish an efficient system for comprehensive management of IP protection, delve into every link in the IP chain including creation, application, protection, management, and services, and push for the formation of systems and mechanisms that operate at high efficiency and feature clearly-defined boundaries of authority, reasonable division of functions, and consistent rights and responsibilities.
I have also stressed that we need to put a strict IP protection system in place, boost the quality and efficiency of related investigations, firmly punish infringements of lawful rights and interests, especially intellectual property rights, in accordance with the law, introduce a punitive compensation system, and make the consequences for breaking the law and violating the rights of others much more severe in order to deter people from engaging in such behavior.
Work on IP protection in China began not long after the founding of the PRC. In 1950, laws and regulations including provisional regulations for the protection of invention and patent rights and for the registration of trademarks were promulgated, which represented the first steps in establishing corresponding systems. China’s IP protection work later moved toward greater standardization after the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee in 1978.
Since our 18th National Congress, the Central Committee has made IP protection a more prominent priority, and put forward a series of related decisions and plans including the Action Plan for In-Depth Implementation of the National Intellectual Property Rights Strategy (2014-2020), the Decisions of the State Council on Accelerating China’s Development into a Country Strong on Intellectual Property Rights under the New Situation, and the National Plan for the Protection and Application of Intellectual Property Rights During the 13th Five-Year Plan Period. During the most recent round of reform of Party and state institutions, we set up the State Administration for Market Regulation, reformed the China National Intellectual Property Administration, and brought about centralized, unified management over different categories of IP including patents, trademarks, and geographical indications. We established IP courts in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, and the Supreme People’s Court set up a dedicated IP court to hear appeals on patent and other technology-related IP cases from across the country, thus forming a specialized IP trial system.
On the whole, China has made consistent strides in its IP-related undertakings. We have pioneered a Chinese approach to the development of IP rights, and scored historic achievements in our IP protection work. Constant improvements have been made to our IP legal, regulatory, and protection systems, and protections have consistently grown stronger. Now, there is greater respect for, and protection of, IP rights in our whole society. These developments have played an important role in encouraging innovation, forging brands, standardizing the market, and expanding opening up.
At the same time, however, we must also recognize the inadequacies that exist. These are mainly manifested in the following ways: awareness of the importance of protecting IP needs to be further enhanced throughout society; while new technologies and forms of business are developing vigorously, the legal foundations for IP protection have not yet caught up; IP rights remain insufficient in terms of quality and benefit on the whole, with examples of high quality and high value relatively limited; greater coordination is needed between law enforcement and judicial institutions; infringement remains a regular and common occurrence in the field of IP since violating rights is easy while defending them is hard, and unlawful methods in this regard are developing into newer, more complex, and more sophisticated forms; some enterprises take advantage of institutional loopholes and abuse IP protection; and the abilities of market entities to respond to overseas IP disputes are clearly lacking, while IP protections for Chinese enterprises operating abroad are inadequate.
China is currently transforming from a major absorber of IP to a major producer of IP, while the focus of IP-related work is shifting from quantity to quality. Keeping in mind the big picture of our national strategy and the imperatives for entering a new stage of development, we must bolster IP protection work across the board in order to drive the development of a modern economic system, stimulate the innovative vigor of the entire nation, and spur efforts to forge a new development dynamic.
First, we must strengthen top-level design over IP protection work.
We need to effectively plan IP protection by accurately assessing new features on the domestic and international landscapes. The objectives of IP protection are encouraging innovation, serving and promoting high-quality development, and meeting the people’s needs for a better life. We must move quickly to formulate a strategy for turning China into a country strong on IP, develop a national plan for IP protection and application during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, and set forth clear goals, tasks, measures, and blueprints. We must continue to act in our own best interests, put the interests of the people above all else, and defend fairness and equity. While rigorously protecting IP, we must also prevent the rights of individuals and businesses from becoming overextended, thereby safeguarding common interests and encouraging innovation at the same time. We must reinforce the indigenous creation and accumulation of IP in key fields, and make plans for an array of major reforms, policies, and projects.
Second, we must reinforce the legal footing of IP protection work.
A complete system of laws and regulations and efficient law enforcement and judicial systems are crucial guarantees for strengthening IP protection. While strictly enforcing related stipulations of the Civil Code, we must work more quickly to refine relevant laws and regulations and push forward revisions of the Patent Law, the Trademark Law, the Copyright Law, the Anti-Monopoly Law, and the Law on Progress of Science and Technology in a coordinated manner in order to boost consistency between different laws. We must enhance legislation in areas including geographical indications and trade secrets. We must strengthen judicial protections concerning civil matters, and develop standards of litigation suited to the underlying patterns of IP cases. We must raise the quality and efficiency of judgments on IP in order to boost their credibility. We must promote the integration of law enforcement standards and judicial standards, and refine mechanisms linking the two sides together. We must improve criminal law and judicial interpretation so as to crack down on criminal behavior with greater intensity. We must step up administrative enforcement, striking hard to root out malignancies and generate effective deterrence in key sectors and regions where public dissatisfaction is strong, the degree of public interest is high, and cases of infringement and counterfeiting are frequent.
Third, we must bolster IP protection at every link in the chain.
IP protection is a systematic project that covers a wide range of fields and involves many different aspects. It is therefore important that we make comprehensive use of legal, administrative, economic, technical, and social measures to refine the system of protection at different links, including review and authorization, administrative enforcement, judicial safeguards, arbitration and mediation, industry self-regulation, and individual credibility, while simultaneously boosting coordination to establish a strong setup for protection work. We must connect IP creation, application, protection, management, and services together and put in place a comprehensive management structure in order to enhance our capacity for systematic protection. We must coordinate our IP protection, anti-monopoly, and fair play review efforts to ensure that factors for innovation flow in an autonomous and orderly manner and are allocated efficiently. We must form a public IP services system that benefits the people, and set up a national big data center and public service platform for IP to convey related information in a timely manner and ensure that the fruits of innovation reach the people more effectively. We must develop smarter and more IT-based IP infrastructure, increase the application of technologies like artificial intelligence and big data in IP review and protection, and promote integrated development of online and offline IP protection. We must encourage the establishment of self-regulation mechanisms for IP protection, and push forward the development of a credibility system. We must make greater efforts to educate people about IP protection in order to raise awareness of the need to respect and protect these rights throughout society.
Fourth, we must deepen reform of systems and mechanisms related to IP protection work.
Since our 18th National Congress, we have planned and promoted a series of reforms in the realm of IP. We need to keep focused on implementing these reforms, and achieve integration and coordinated progress. We must design and implement differentiated IP policies for discrete industries and regions, and refine the IP review system. We must improve the IP protection system for emerging fields and forms of business such as big data, artificial intelligence, and gene technology, while also developing methods of protection for areas such as traditional culture and knowledge in a timely manner. We must continue the reform and innovation in the realm of IP trials, develop the IP litigation system, improve the adjudication of technology-related IP cases, and move quickly to put a punitive compensation system for IP infringement in place. We must consolidate the IP assessment system, improve rules on ownership of IP, and develop relevant systems for preventing the abuse of IP rights.
Fifth, we must promote international cooperation and competition in the IP domain.
Intellectual property is a core factor for competitiveness on the international stage, as well a focal point of international dispute. We need to have the courage and the capacity to stand up for ourselves in this regard, and refuse to yield our legitimate rights and interests or jeopardize our core national interests. We must uphold the vision of a global community with a shared future, remain committed to the principles of openness, inclusiveness, balance, and universal benefit, play a deeper role in global IP governance under the framework of the World Intellectual Property Organization, push for the improvement of international rules and standards on IP as well as related trade and investment, and drive development of the global IP governance system in a more just and equitable direction. We must broaden channels and adopt more methods for international communication on IP, effectively convey China’s efforts in this regard to the world, and build our image as a great civilization and a responsible major country. We must deepen IP-related cooperation with countries and territories along the Belt and Road, and advocate the sharing of knowledge.
Sixth, we must defend our national security in the IP domain.
As I have said before, the overall security of our nation must be taken into consideration in international transfers of our IP. We must enhance indigenous R&D and protection of core technologies in key fields that have a bearing on national security, and control international transfers of IP that touch upon national security in accordance with the law. We must refine laws, regulations, and policy measures that counter monopolies and ensure fair competition in IP, and develop forceful and appropriate methods of constraint. We must promote the application of Chinese laws and regulations on IP abroad, and make better arrangements for cross-border judicial cooperation. We must form highly efficient early warning and response mechanisms for international risks and emergencies related to IP, set up systems for preventing and controlling IP risks involving foreign parties, and provide greater support to Chinese enterprises in protecting their IP overseas.
Party committees and governments at all levels must fulfill their responsibilities, strengthen coordinating mechanisms related to IP efforts, place emphasis on the development of IP talent, and form synergy to crack down on counterfeiting and infringement and to overcome regional protectionism. Meanwhile, leading officials at all levels must study more diligently and familiarize themselves with relevant business activities to become more conscious of IP rights and more capable of protecting them under the new situation. By learning how to apply IP protection systems to promote high-quality economic and social development, and how to leverage these systems in international cooperation and competition, we will push IP protection in China to new heights.
(This was the main part of a speech made by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the 25th group study session of the Political Bureau of the 19th CPC Central Committee on November 30, 2020.)