Copyright theft issue ‘distorted’: China

Asian giant’s IP chief speaks out against Western media

Tags: ChinaCopyrightIntellectual PropertyUSA
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Copyright theft issue ‘distorted’: China Tian: Speaking honestly, there is a market; people use and buy pirated goods. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  November 11, 2012

China's intellectual property chief spoke out today, against what he called the "distortion" of the Asian giant's "intellectual property rights protection image" by Western media, Reuters reported.

Tian Lipu, head of China's State Intellectual Property Office, said the Chinese government's efforts were not being taken into account.

"We don't deny [this problem], and we are continuing to battle against it," Tian said, insisting key facts had been overlooked in Western reporting of the issue.

"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," he said. "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."

Governments worldwide, including the US, have urged China to take a tougher position on the theft of intellectual property. Violations are claimed to be widespread, from medicines to DVDs. In April the US again put China, long with Russia on its list of worst offenders among nations it feels do not pursue copyright infringements aggressively enough.

The US-based Business Software Alliance, which includes Microsoft among its members, claims that nearly 80% of the software installed on personal computers in China is pirated.

Tian argues that since companies like Apple choose China as a base of operations for the manufacture of key product lines, such as the iPhone, they are likely not worried about piracy.

"Of the goods made for Apple, most are made in China. Once Apple's brand is added to it and it is exported to the United States its value doubles," he said.

"This could only happen because China's intellectual property rights environment sets foreign investors at ease allowing them to come to China to manufacture."

The International Intellectual Property Alliance, a US coalition of film, software, music and publishing groups, estimates that US companies lost more than $15bn in 2009 due to international copyright theft. About $14bn of the total was said to be due to software piracy, with an estimated $3.5bn in losses in China and $1.4bn in Russia.

"Speaking honestly, there is a market. People use and buy pirated goods," Tian said.

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