China Customs confiscated millions of items over IPR infringement in 2021

China's customs seized 71.8 million illicit items over intellectual property (IP) infringements during import and export inspections in 2021, following strengthened national supervision of IP protection, according to the Chinese General Administration of Customs (GAC). In addressing Olympics-related IP protection in the GAC's nationwide campaigns, 118,000 illicit logos, pins, flags, garments and sunglasses were seized in 2021, the GAC said. Starting in early 2021, the GAC launched inspection campaigns targeting IP infringements using advanced equipment to increase efficiency and accuracy. The GAC also worked to improve services for domestic companies to register their IPs with the agency, resulting in 17,667 newly registered IP items in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 17%.

China has been stepping up efforts regarding IP protection in a bid to improve the environment for innovation, and further improve legal protection for emerging industries. In September 2021, China issued a plan for 2021-2035 to strengthen the building and protection of IP rights, by accelerating legislation on such rights in new fields and forms of business, such as big data, artificial intelligence, algorithms and genetic technology. By 2025, the added value of patent-intensive industries is expected to be equivalent to 13% of China's GDP, and that of the copyright industry at 7.5%. The annual trade in IP royalties will reach CNY350 billion. By 2035, the comprehensive competitiveness of IP rights shall rank among the top in the world, according to the plan.

Meanwhile, various local governments have also released their own plans to beef up IP protection. Shanghai, for example, recently released an action plan, aiming to build the city into a leading international IP center by 2035, with improved mechanisms and services supporting IP protection and strengthened international cooperation, the Global Times reports.

The rapid development of China’s economy and technology sector has seen a growing number of intellectual property disputes involving foreign litigants handled in Beijing in recent years. Du Changhui, Vice President of the Beijing Intellectual Property Court, said that as the country has put more efforts into technological research and innovation, Chinese enterprises have become more competitive in some new high-tech fields, or “become leaders in industries worldwide instead of followers”. The number of foreign-related IP cases filed with the court rose to 4,381 last year from 2,475 in 2015, a year after the court was established. More than 85% of the foreign-related IP cases in Beijing over the past seven years involved trademark disputes, and about 10% dealt with patents, the China Daily adds.