On June 5, 2008, the PRC State Council issued the Outlines of the National Intellectual Property Strategy (the Outlines), which promise to develop China into a country with a comparatively high level of intellectual property (IP) creation, utilization, and protection by 2020.

The State Council established the National Intellectual Property Strategy Formulation Task Force in order to formulate the strategies laid out in the Outlines. The Outlines include guiding principles, strategic goals, and measures, as well as specific tasks. The Outlines point out that the implementation of a national IP strategy will help improve China’s capacity to develop independent innovations. According to the Outlines, China will implement the national IP strategy under the policy of “encouraging innovation, its effective application, legal protection and scientific management.”

The State Council sets goals for China’s IP development in the next five years. The government anticipates a significant increase in the percentage of independently developed and owned IP rights by Chinese parties, and expects Chinese applicants to assume a leading position in the world for the number of invention patents they have been granted. The government also anticipates that industries owning core proprietary IP rights will contribute to a higher percentage of the national GDP. In addition, under the government’s strategy, in the next five years China will develop a number of new, high-quality plant varieties and integrated circuit (IC) layout designs. The government also anticipates the effective protection and use of trade secrets, geographic indications, genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and folklore art.

The Outlines offer five strategic focuses. The government will improve the legal system on IP rights, which includes further improvements in relevant laws and regulations, such as timely revisions of laws relating to patents, trademarks and copyrights. The government will also use policies related to finance, investment, government procurement, industrial development, energy and environmental protection, to encourage players in the market to create and use IP rights. The government will also strengthen the enforcement of IP laws.

The Outlines list the tasks that need to be done in the areas of patents, trademarks, copyright, trade secrets, new varieties of plants, IP on particular matters and as it relates to national defense. The Outlines encourage obtaining patents in core areas, such as biology, medicine, information, new materials, advanced manufacturing, new energy, oceanography, modern agriculture, modern transportation, and aeronautics. In addition, the Outlines call for improving patent examination procedures and high quality inspections.

In terms of trademarks, the government also will support enterprises in their efforts to create famous trademarks. The government will further improve the efficiency of the examination of trademarks, in order to speed up that the examination process. In terms of copyrights, the government will intensify piracy penalties. With respect to business secrets, the government will guide market entities in establishing a trade secret management system.

According to the Outlines, the government will adopt certain strategic measures to implement these provisions, which include establishing a market-oriented system for the creation of independently developed and owned intellectual property, encouraging the commercialization and utilization of IP rights, expanding international exchanges and cooperation in intellectual property, and, in particular, stimulating the application and industrialization of intellectual property in enterprises.