China's IP protection image 'distorted' by West

Country's head of intellectual property office says the Western media has deliberately ignored the government's efforts to combat piracy domestically, choosing instead to highlight the negatives.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

China's poor global image regarding intellectual property and software piracy has been distorted by the Western media as they have ignored the government's efforts to combat these challenges in recent times.

In a Reuters report Sunday, Tian Lipu, head of China's State Intellectual Property Office, acknowledged that there is a problem of software piracy and strong demand for this among local consumers. The depiction of these issues by the Western media has resulted in lowering the country's image overseas though, he stated.

Tian said: "Speaking honestly, there is a market. People use and buy pirated goods. [But] to a large extent, China's intellectual property rights protection image has been distorted by Western media.

"China's image overseas is very poor. As soon as people hear China, they think of piracy and counterfeiting. We don't deny (this problem), and we are continuing to battle against it."

What he did take issue of is the way the Western press have neglected reporting the efforts the Chinese government have put in to address these problems.

"For example, China is the world's largest payer for patent rights, for trademark rights, for royalties, and one of the largest for buying real software. We pay the most. People rarely talk about this, but it really is a fact. Our government offices, our banks, our insurance companies, our firms… the software is all real," Tian pointed out.

He added that the software and IP piracy issues in the country cannot be as bad as portrayed if Apple, one of the world's top brands, continues to rely on China to manufacture its devices. Cupertino's presence in the country remains because China's IP rights environment sets foreign investors "at ease", allowing such companies to do business there, he said.

Reuters noted the International Intellectual Property Alliance estimated U.S. companies lost more than US$15 billion in 2009 due to copyright theft, of which US$14 billion was due to software piracy. China contributed an estimated US$3.5 billion of those losses, it added.

The piracy situation in China is improving though, according to the 2011 BSA global software piracy study. The proportion of China's PCs with pirate software fell to 77 percent--a record low--since the study was conducted in 2003. Then, the piracy rate went to as high as 92 percent.

The Chinese government had also spent more than 1 billion yuan (US$156.9 million) buying licensed software as part of a national campaign to stamp out the use of pirated software across all the public sector offices. The next step for them would be to inspect and correct the improper procurement of software licenses at the city and country level, and this will conclude by end-2013.

To date, 159 cities and 594 counties of China's 500 cities and 2,800 counties have gone through the compliance inspection process and undergone corrective procedures.

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