China steps up efforts to protect intellectual property, trade secrets

China’s top court and prosecutor moved on Sunday to lower the threshold for punishable offenses of the laws related to intellectual property rights (IPR) and trade secrets, in the latest move to bolster protection of IPR and create a better business climate.

INTERESTED IN Elemental? Apply Here for Membership

The Supreme Peoples’ Court and the Supreme Peoples’ Procuratorate (SPP) issued an interpretation of the implementation of the criminal laws regarding IPR protection, which strengthens the crackdown on IPR infringement, expands the scope of punishable offenses and increases criminal penalties for violations, among others.

Specifically, the legal interpretation, which takes effect on Monday, lowered the threshold of punishable offenses from 500,000 yuan ($73,158) or more to 300,000 yuan or more. Furthermore, convicting major violations of trade secret protection laws would no longer require “actual damage in production and operation.” 

Career IPR thieves, repeat offenders and those who counterfeit trademarks during major natural disasters, accidents and public health crises will face severe penalties with no probation.

“[The legal interpretation] is an important measure to increase the intensity of legal protection of IPR and respond to concerns in society,” according to a statement on the website of the country’s top prosecutor.

While China has been steadily moving to bolster its IPR protection, the issue has also been highly politicized by some US officials, who have made unsubstantiated accusations over China’s record in IPR protection and even cited it as a reason to close the Chinese Consulate General in Houston, Texas. 

While the SPP said that China has attached great importance to the IPR protection, new types of violations, especially cases regarding trade secrets, have been on the rise, the statement said. 

The interpretations were based on domestic and foreign suggestions to lower the standard for convictions to protect trade secrets, the statement said.

Global Times