The Chinese government on Tuesday unveiled a sweeping intellectual property enforcement initiative that appears designed to reverse the culture of piracy that has so far been the norm in the country.
The initiative was unveiled by China’s Deputy Commerce Minister Jiang Zengwei at a Tuesday news conference, where he pledged closer co-operation with the United States, Japan and Europe.
The new six month campaign will, among other things, involve a government-wide audit to ensure that federal, state and local officials are using non-pirated versions of office software. The campaign will also provide funds for the purchasing of legitimate copies of software, which some US vendors have started to price for developing economies.
It will also focus on cracking down on websites peddling counterfeit medicines.
The move coincides with the U.S. Justice Department’s recent seizure of several China-based domain names associated with web sites that sell counterfeit goods.
The United States earlier this year also pledged to ensure that all of its departments and agencies use legally-obtained copies of software.
The World Trade Organization this January took the U.S. side in a complaint that China wasn’t doing enough to enforce patents, copyright and trademarks.
The WTO decision could open the doors to allow the US to claim compensation from China and even to impose trade sanctions.
But Chinese officials also clearly worry about their country’s culture of rampant piracy and its impact on Chinese innovations.
A recent online news report, for example, laments the instant piracy of popular new Chinese novels.