China issues IPR protection plan for 2021-35

China issued a plan for 2021-2035 to strengthen protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) by accelerating legislation on IPRs in new fields and forms of business, such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms and genetic technology. Analysts said that the blueprint will improve the innovative environment for enterprises and further improve the legal system for emerging industries in China. Innovation is the primary driving force for development, and the role of IPRs as a strategic resource for national development and a core element of international competitiveness is becoming more prominent, according to the plan. “The emerging information technology industries are technology-intensive and intelligence-intensive, the development of which, including basic algorithms and application scenarios, requires a lot of intellectual property (IP) support. Only when IPRs are effectively protected can innovation be encouraged, and the scientific research and production capacity of enterprises be improved," Wang Peng, Assistant Professor at the Gaoling School of Artificial Intelligence at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times. 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 for 7.5%. The annual trade volume of IPR royalties will reach CNY350 billion. By 2035, the comprehensive competitiveness of IPRs shall rank among the top in the world, per the 15-year plan. The country will also formulate and revise laws and regulations on strengthening the protection of business secrets, improve the legal system for regulating the abuse of IPRs, and improve legislation covering monopoly practices and unfair competition related to IPRs.

Zhao Zhanling, Legal Counsel at the Beijing-based Internet Society of China, told the Global Times that the blueprint sends a signal that China will further step up a crackdown on monopolistic and unfair competition practices that abuse IP protection, such as companies' exclusive control over music streaming licenses. In August, Tencent music announced that its exclusive licensing deals with labels would end as of August 23, as China's market regulator moved to prevent leading internet players from abusing their dominant market position. In 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, fined chipmaker Qualcomm CNY6 billion, one of the largest anti-monopoly penalties. The U.S. chipmaker had been found to abuse its dominant market position by charging excessive fees for technology, the Global Times reports.

The number of high-value invention patents is expected to reach 12 per 10,000 people by 2025. By 2035, China’s IPR competitiveness will rank among the top in the world, with a completed IPR system, prosperous growth in IPR-driven innovation and a better social environment for an IPR culture, the China Daily adds. To reach the goals, the plan sets out several key requirements and tasks. These include building an IPR protection system that supports a world-class business environment, establishing an IPR market operation mechanism that encourages innovation, building a public IPR service system that is convenient and beneficial to people, and stepping up participation in global IPR governance.

According to a report released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), China ranks 12th in the Global Innovation Index of 2021, up two places compared with 2020. The report showed that China's ranking has risen annually since 2013, with strong upward momentum.