China failing to improve IP protection for US companies – USTR
The United States government has criticized China for failing to improve protections for the intellectual property of U.S. companies. On April 30, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of IP rights.
In its section on China, the report highlights legal and procedural obstacles for securing trademark rights in the country, including constraints on trademark examiners from considering marks for related goods or services in different classes when evaluating bad faith. China remains on the USTR’s “priority watch list,” meaning that it will continue to be closely monitored for IP infringements, although it has not been added to the “priority foreign country” list, which comes with automatic penalties such as retaliatory tariffs.
The USTR report is the first under the Biden administration. Although the report is largely critical of China’s IP protection regime, it acknowledges various regulatory developments over the past year in this space including “a large number” of new IP-related measures and revisions to the PRC Patent Law (中华人民共和国专利法), PRC Copyright Law (中华人民共和国著作权法), and the PRC Criminal Law (中华人民共和国刑法). However, the report states that these reforms still “fall short of the full range of fundamental changes needed to improve the IP landscape in China.” The report also identifies broad anti-suit IP injunctions as a worrying development. Such injunctions temporarily restrict parallel court proceedings in a foreign jurisdiction. In August, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) granted the first anti-suit injunction in the standard essential patent (SEP) dispute case of Huawei v. Conversant, enjoining the global IP management company Conversant Wireless Licensing from seeking enforcement of a German court’s ruling against the Chinese tech giant Huawei. Other PRC courts have since granted anti-suit IP injunctions of their own, including in the case of Xiaomi v. InterDigital where a Wuhan court enjoined U.S. technology-patent company InterDigital to withdraw its injunction request in India and to not seek injunctive relief in any other jurisdictions.
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