In the News: Beijing Robotaxi Permits; China IP Criticism; and BlackRock Pensions Product

May 4, 2022
| By Vincent Chow
Beijing approves Baidu, Pony.ai to operate robotaxis without supervisor in driver's seat; U.S government blacklists China again over lax IP protection and enforcement; BlackRock launches private pension product, first foreign asset manager to do so

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Beijing grants robotaxi permits to Baidu, Pony.ai

Chinese regulators have, for the first time, granted permits for the operation of self-driving robotaxis without humans in the driver’s seat. On April 28, search engine giant Baidu and autonomous vehicle technology company Pony.ai announced that Beijing city authorities have approved their fleets of driverless cars to operate in the city, with a safety supervisor present in the car.

The Beijing municipal government has gradually expanded the permits granted to both Baidu and Pony.ai in the past year. In earlier trials of the technology, the safety supervisor had to be behind the wheel. According to the two companies, their cars will be allowed to operate within the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, a 60 square kilometer zone.

On April 24, Toyota-backed Pony.ai also secured approval to launch its autonomous vehicle taxi service in a district in Guangzhou with safety drivers behind the wheel. Those taxis will be permitted to charge a fee, which Beijing allowed Baidu and Pony.ai to do in November 2021. However, the new fleet of taxis with the safety supervisor not in the driver’s seat will not be permitted to charge fees at first. 

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US criticizes China for lax IP protection again

The United States government has once again put China on its annual blacklist for lax enforcement of intellectual property rights. On April 27, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its 2022 Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ enforcement of IP rights.

China and six other countries, including Russia, make the “priority watchlist” again—the same seven countries on the blacklist in last year’s report. According to the report, China continues to be the largest origin economy for counterfeit and pirated goods, accounting for more than 85% of global seizures of counterfeit goods from 2017 to 2019, including Hong Kong.

The USTR announcement also noted that the U.S government is “closely monitoring” China’s progress in implementing its commitments under the phase one trade agreement between the two countries. It also made reference to China’s amendments 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), in addition to other measures improving IP protection and enforcement. However, the report notes that U.S. rights holders continue to raise concerns about the adequacy and implementation of these new measures, particularly in relation to “long-standing issues” like bad faith trademarks, counterfeiting, and online piracy. 

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Rights protection: PRC Patent Law (4th Revision) (中华人民共和国专利法 (第四次修正))

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BlackRock looks to tap private pensions market with retirement product

BlackRock has launched the first private pension product involving a foreign asset manager in China. On April 25, BlackRock CCB Wealth Management, a joint venture between BlackRock and China Construction Bank, announced the launch of the retirement wealth management product in Guangzhou and Chengdu.

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