News express: China releases a 15-year blueprint on the development of intellectual property rights (2021–2035)

On 22 September 2021, China released a 15-year plan to develop intellectual property rights (IPR): ‘The Outline of Building a Powerful Intellectual Property Nation’ (2021–2035). The full text in Chinese is accessible at the Xinhuanet. The official English version will be made available here in due course. This post serves as a quick briefing.
‘The Outline’ (2021–2035) is highly noteworthy, comparable to the 2008 Outline of the National Intellectual Property Strategy. Issued also by the State Council of China, ‘The Outline’ (2008) led intellectual property to rise to the level of national strategy, commencing a series of measures in the years that followed. 

Both outlines put forward their respective five-year plan and long-term plan. Notably, compared to those of ‘The Outline’ (2008) (see page 3 of the WIPO lexdoc), the five-year goals set by ‘The Outline’ (2021–2035) are much more concrete and specific, as shown in the list below: 

The criterion of ‘The number of high-value invention patents* per 10,000 population’ had its debut this year at the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021–2025. See here a Wikipedia page of the five-year plans in China). Previously, in the 12th and 13th Five-Year Plans, the criterion adopted was ‘the number of invention patents per 10,000 people’ – a shift from quantity to quality and policy-led strategic upgrade is evident. 

According to a recent interview with an officer from the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), the ‘high-value invention patents’ refer to the following five kinds of patents: 

1. Invention patents in strategic emerging industries. 
2. Invention patents that have the patent family overseas.
3. Invention patents with a validity span of more than ten years. 
4. Invention patents with a high number of pledge financing. 
5. Invention patents that have won the National Science and Technology Award or the China Patent Award. 

The previously mentioned upgrades in invention patents are also reflected in ’The Outline’ (2021–2035), where the term ‘high-quality development’ is mentioned six times, stressing the national shift driving IPR from quantity to quality:
China has entered a new stage of development, and promoting high-quality development is an inevitable requirement for maintaining sustained and healthy economic development. 

To achieve higher quality, more efficient, fairer, more sustainable and safer development, with the theme of promoting high-quality development. 

Promoting high-quality development as a theme. 

Make better use of the basic guaranteed role of the intellectual property system in stimulating innovation and provide a steady stream of motivation for high-quality development. 

To improve a high-quality, enterprise-led and market-oriented creation mechanism. 

Build a humanistic and social environment that promotes the high-quality development of IPR.
As for long-term goals, ‘The Outline’ (2008) put forward the idea, among other things, that by 2020 China would become a country with an elevated level of creation, utilisation, protection and administration of IPR. That objective was announced as achieved by the State Council Information Office last year. 

This time, ‘The Outline’ (2021–2035) put forth the 15-year plan of China becoming a powerful intellectual property nation by 2035 with deeper participation in the global intellectual property governance: 

To attain these development goals, ‘The Outline’ (2021-2035) clarifies seven key tasks:

1. Construct an intellectual property system oriented to socialist modernisation.
2. Construct an intellectual property protection system that supports a world-class business environment. 
3. Construct an intellectual property market operating mechanism that encourages innovation and development. 
4. Construct a public service system of intellectual property rights (IPR) that is convenient and beneficial to people. 
5. Construct a humanistic social environment that promotes the high-quality development of intellectual property. 
6. Participate deeply in global intellectual property governance. 
7. Organisational safeguards should be provided.

Under each goal, detailed plans provide specific measures. For instance, under task one there are four sub-tasks concerning better system design at the level of legislation, governance, policy and rules in general on the emerging and specific fields (e.g. how to effectively connect the protection of traditional Chinese medicine and the modern intellectual property system). The tech-related legislation requires acceleration in intellectual property legislation in industries such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and gene technology. Furthermore, research shall be conducted and improvements made to the rules protecting the IPR of algorithms, business methods and AI outputs. 

For task six, global participation requires a deeper level of opening regarding the intellectual property field to the world, improvement of international dialogue and exchange mechanisms and international rules and standards for intellectual property and related trade and investment. 

The opening year of the 14th five-year plan of China is 2021. Combined with the announcement of this ‘The Outline’ (2021–2035), these two forces will set off another top-down wave of promoting intellectual property developments across China. 

Usually, local governments will plan coordinating follow-up working mechanisms to implement ‘The Outline’ (2021–2035) per their respective circumstances and announce their strategies. Moreover, since ‘The Outline’ (2021–2035) expressly incorporates the IPR related work into the supervision and assessment of the local governments (under task seven regarding providing the organisational safeguards), it makes sense that those more direct quantifiable indicators (e.g. the number of high-value invention patents per 10,000 population) will be presented clearly and fulfilled timely. 

* China has three types of patents: invention patents, utility model patents and design patents. See Article 2 of the Patent Law of China (2020 Amendment).

Images generated by Tian.
News express: China releases a 15-year blueprint on the development of intellectual property rights (2021–2035) News express: China releases a 15-year blueprint on the development of intellectual property rights (2021–2035) Reviewed by Tian Lu on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 Rating: 5

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