On December 10, 2014, the State Council launched the Action Plan for the Further Implementation of the National Intellectual Property Strategy for the period 2014-2020 (hereafter "the Action Plan").
This Action Plan is drafted jointly by no less than 26 Ministries, Commissions and Administrations of China. It follows the National Strategy for the Intellectual Property of China, which has been launched on Jun 5, 2008 ("the National Strategy").
In the National Strategy, China had set two dates: 2013 and 2020. In 2013, China was to increase the number of Chinese patent and well-known trademarks, reach a higher proportion of intellectual property rights in Chinese products, improve the protection of intellectual property, and raise the awareness of the Chinese people as regards intellectual property. In 2020, China was to reach a "relative high standard for innovation, utilisation, protection and management of intellectual property rights".
Six years later, the Action Plan enumerates the achievements made during the first 6-year period following the launching of the National Strategy, and defines what need to be done, during the following six years, in order to reach the target set for 2020.
The targets, as usual, are set in quantitative terms.
For example, in 2020 the number of patents should reach 14 per 10,000 people (it was 4 in 2013), the quantity of patent application submitted through PCT procedure should be 75,000 (22,000 in 2013), the time during which a patent owner maintains the validity of the patent by paying the annuities should be 9 years (it was 5.8 years in 2013). For the copyright, the number of copyrighted works should be 1 million (the number was 845,000 in 2013), the number of recorded computer software should reach 200,000 (it was 164,000 in 2013), the total transaction volume of technical contracts in the national technology market should be 2,000 billion CNY (from 800 billion in 2013), the income from licensing abroad Chinese proprietary rights should reach 8 billion USD (1.36 billion in 2013), the average annual growth rate of revenue for the intellectual property industry should be 20% (18% in 2013).
While all these quantitative figures are planned to increase, the target for the examination time of patents and trademarks are set to diminish. While, in 2013, the average time for examination of a patent was 22.3 months, the goal is fixed at 20.2 months for 2020. For trademarks, the examination time, which was 10 months in 2013, should be reduced to 9 months as early as 2015 (this is specified in the revised trademark law) and is to remain at this level in 2020.
In order to achieve these goals, the Action Plan makes a list of actions that need to be made during the six years. Promote the creation and use of intellectual property in order to upgrade the industry, strengthen the protection and the management of intellectual property, expand international cooperation and promote international competitiveness.
Some ideas seem new, like the need to create patent alliances and clusters, and organise collaboration between various stakeholders, who should form a patent trading system and release a patent development report on strategic emerging industries.
The Action Plan encourages the industry associations to strengthen their self-regulation.
The enforcement of intellectual property rights is also one of the main actions to be conducted. In this respect, the disclosure of information concerning administrative penalty cases, "so as to deter the offenders", is emphasized . The Action Plan recommends exploring the establishment of credit standards related to the protection of intellectual property, and to record malicious infringement to be disclosed to credit reporting agencies.
Concerning administrative enforcement, the Action Plan focuses on some key fields, such as, special campaigns, large cross-regional cases, large commercial sites and fairs. As regards the e-Commerce, the Action Plan expects e-commerce platforms to implement their responsibilities, and urges the postal and courier services companies to improve and perform their mail inspection system.
A special mention is made to the issue of case transfers between administrative authorities and the criminal enforcement authorities, and to the need to "gradually incorporate special campaigns into the track of normalised law enforcement". The Action Plan also emphasizes the intellectual property courts, which need to be provided by adequate human resources.
The Action Plan also mentions the need to strengthen the notarisation on evidence preservation of proving acts, such as the prior use and infringement relating to intellectual property.
The Action Plan clearly favours the solution of conflicts though mediation (improve industry mediation mechanism, foster a number of community mediation organisations, and train a group of professional mediators).
As regards the management of intellectual property, the Action Plan makes a special mention of the need for the universities and research institutes to transfer and transform their technical achievements into intellectual property rights.
The Action Plan addresses various international cooperation platforms, for the examination of patents and the cooperation mechanisms in the enforcement of intellectual property through customs.
The Action Plan supports the enterprises "go global" and encourages enterprises to file for the obtainment of intellectual property rights abroad. Assistance mechanisms for safeguarding intellectual property overseas should be established.
In order to perform these actions, some specific methods are designed: make information available to the public, conduct intellectual property surveys and establish statistics, build national training bases for intellectual property talents, which includes the incorporation of programs regarding intellectual property in schools.
For the implementation of the Action Plan, a leading role is assigned to the State
Intellectual Property Office, which is to build a powerful nation in respect of intellectual property.
All in all, the Action Plan is rather similar to those administrative documents of the kind, where each and every aspect of the topic is mentioned in very general terms, which does not go without a certain amount of redundancy.
Actually, "each and every" is not quite exact, in this case.
Indeed, the issue of trademark is almost absent of the whole text. Only one paragraph briefly refers to trademark review and the need establish a "green channel for trademark review".