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7 Chi. J. Int'l L. 231 (2006-2007)
The Emperor Is Far away: China's Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Protection, 1986-2006

handle is hein.journals/cjil7 and id is 235 raw text is: The Emperor Is Far Away: China's Enforcement of
Intellectual Property Rights Protection, 1986-2006
Joseph A. Massey*
D3jfi vu all over again. Yogi Berra's classic remark seems particularly apt
when discussing the status of intellectual property rights (IPR') protection in
China. It has been twenty years since, as newly appointed Assistant US Trade
Representative (USTR') for Japan and China, I set out with colleagues from
USTR and other US government agencies on a six-year marathon series of
negotiations with China on IPR and market access. Yet in the surveys conducted
over the past several years by the American Chambers of Commerce in Beijing
and Shanghai and by the US-China Business Council, US firms say that the
biggest problems they face in China today are much the same as the complaints
they raised in 1986, namely inadequate protection or enforcement of IPR'-
copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets.
There is, however, an important difference between the situation in 1986
and that of today, which is neatly captured in a classic Chinese phrase, The
mountains are high and the emperor is far away.
In 1986, China's problems in IPR stemmed directly from the policies, laws,
and conduct of the national government in Beijing. There was little legal
protection for intellectual property. The existing trademark law was weak and
routinely flouted. The patent law, enacted only the year before our talks began in
1985,   provided     no   product    patent    protection   for    chemicals   and
Joseph A. Massey is a Professor of International Business and the Director for the Center for
International Business at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Mr. Massey also served as
the Assistant US Trade Representative for Japan and China from 1985 to 1992.
See, for example, American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, 2004 White Paper on Ameiican
Business in China: Intellectual Property Rights, available online at <http://www.amcham-
aspx?Guid={F18DOBOF-225C-4133-86E9-E34EDAFCD3A8}> (visited Apr 22, 2006) (stating
that widespread infringement of IPR continues across a variety of products and technologies
primarily attributable to the lack of an effective Chinese enforcement system).

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