BEIJING — China issued new, tougher guidelines for protection of patents, copyrights and other intellectual property in a move that may be timed to help along halting progress in trade talks with the United States.
The guidelines issued late Sunday by the State Council, or Cabinet, and by the powerful Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party order beefed up laws for protecting such intellectual property rights, increased compensation for infringements and stricter enforcement of existing laws. They also lower the threshold for criminal prosecution of IPR offenses.
The new blueprint makes protection of intellectual property one of the criteria for evaluating local government officials’ performance, creating a greater incentive for compliance.
In past decades, officials were judged mainly by political loyalties and economic growth in their localities. More recently, China’s leaders added environmental protection to such evaluations. Putting future promotions and income on the line could create much stronger motivation to more effectively enforce such laws.
Theft and forced transfers of technology and inadequate protection of copyrights, patents and trademarks are perennial complaints of foreign companies operating in China and are among the key issues in the latest flareup in trade tensions.
Despite much progress, “China continues to be a haven for counterfeiting, digital piracy and IP theft,” the U.S. government’s International Trade Administration said in a recent report.
It said piracy of U.S. intellectual piracy by China costs American companies up to $600 billion a year.
Piracy is also a domestic concern. The government has long said that companies are less likely to innovate if they cannot profit off the results of their investments due to piracy of their products and technology.
The guidelines did not include specific penalties, which would come with later revisions of laws and regulations. They call for significantly improving the enforcement of IPR protections by 2022.
Hopes for progress in resolving the costly trade dispute between the U.S. and China have revived in recent days with upbeat comments from both sides.
President Donald Trump said Friday at an NCAA National Collegiate Champions Day event that the “China deal is coming along very well.”
He also suggested that he might not sign a congressional resolution in support of human rights in Hong Kong following months of protests, out of concern that might derail the trade talks. A desire to keep those negotiations on track was a factor deterring China from intervening in the turmoil, he asserted.