Mainland Chinese authorities will begin a new round of crackdowns on digital piracy and against the traffickers of counterfeit goods at the end of October, according to a recent report in the Xinhua News Agency, China’s official newswire.
The new campaign was announced early last week at a state council meeting presided over by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
Xinhua said that the six-month campaign will encompass all kinds of intellectual property infringements, including “pirated publications,” software, DVDs, designs, trademarks and patents “both at the production and distribution levels.”
The story said that the authorities will “mete out stern punishment” to businesses involved in trafficking in the goods. It also said that the state council directed all government agencies to only use authorized versions of commercial software.
There were no details about what kind of fines or penalties pirates and counterfeiters would face, nor the scope of the operation.
In many regions of China, regional government officials are investors in the pirate and counterfeit goods being produced.
In late September during a New York City forum moderated by Henry Kissenger, Bill Gates told Wen that China had made little progress in going after software pirates.
“I’ll mention one thing that is not going well, and that’s related to the enforcement of intellectual property, such as copyright. If you look at the numbers, over the last five years there hasn’t been much progress,” the New York Times quoted him as saying.
“I do admit these problems exist,” Mr. Wen replied. “We have to put in administrative measures. I think we should have higher moral and ethical standards in this matter.”
Separately, China’s Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday held a joint seminar with the International Trade Commission in Beijing.
The Xinhua story quoted a Chinese official and an economist expressing concern over the frequent investigations launched at the ITC against Chinese companies for “unfair competition” in the realm of intellectual property.
According to Fu Xiaohui, a senior official in China’s state intellectual property office, Chinese companies are the most frequently investigated out of any country, accounting for almost 43 percent of all of the ITC’s investigations.
A lawyer quoted at the end of the story said that China should set up a similar investigatory system against unfair competition from overseas countries.
Editor’s Note: Don’t miss the Intellectual Property Breakfast Club Event on Tuesday, December 14th, “China and Intellectual Property,” for FREE at Clyde’s of Gallery Place in Washington from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Register at http://ipbreakfast.eventbrite.com.