No. 186 Managing Intell. Prop. 22 (February 2009)
The Tasks of Tian

handle is hein.journals/manintpr186 and id is 24 raw text is: COE STRY TINLP  NEVE

The tasks of Tian
China's developing IP system faces some big tests in 2009. Janice
Qu and Peter Oilier spoke with SIPO commissioner Tian Lipu
about patent amendments, the National IP Strategy and the
Office's global role
his is going to be a big year for IP in China. The government set the scene in
2008 by publishing a National IP Strategy in June that aims to make the coun-
try one of the world's most innovative by 2020 and then passing amendments
to the Patent Law in December that are designed to encourage domestic innovation.
Now Tian Lipu, commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) must
deliver on the promise to turn made in China into invented in China.
The challenge is great. While China's patent system has developed at incredible
speed during the past 30 years, IP awareness among businesses is still low. A dra-
matic rise in filings hides the fact that few Chinese patents are included in lucrative
patent pools and standards. That increase in filings has given SIPO many of the
problems that are faced by the world's biggest patent offices: ensuring examinations
are carried out quickly and to a high standard while dealing with the ever-increas-
ing amount of prior art in different languages.
SIPO also faces its own domestic challenges. Foreign companies complain that some
businesses are abusing the system of unexamined utility model patents to file applica-
tions with little or no inventive step and are then enforcing these so-called junk patents
in court. Finally, SIPO, as China's main IP organisation (trade marks and copyright are
dealt with by separate offices) now needs to establish how it will use its increasing clout
on the international stage and what role it will play in issues where patents and politics
meet, such as genetic resources, traditional knowledge and access to medicines.
SIPO commissioner Tian Lipu is the man tasked with addressing these questions.
Speaking to Managing IP at the sidelines of a roundtable in Hong Kong about the
National IP Strategy, Tian, now the longest serving head of a major patent office,
was relaxed, open and happy to answer questions on a wide range of topics. He
stressed that raising IP awareness domestically is SIPO's key challenge: Chinese
companies need to be educated and trained to understand what IP is.
Coping with the rise in filings
You could argue that each of the last 30 years has been a big year for IP in China,
such has been the speed of the country's economic development. The country only
established a patent office in 1980 (see History of SIPO), shortly after Deng Xiaoping
opened up its economy. Tian joined what was then known as the Chinese Patent
What is the National IP Strategy?
Announced in 2005 and finally published in  ers highlighted the sections dealing with
June last year, the outline of the National IP  enforcement, particularly the paragraphs that
Strategy provides a roadmap to how China  promise to study the option of setting up a
plans to become one of the world's most  specialised IP court, improve existing judicial
innovative countries by 2020. Compiled after  interpretations and refine court procedures.
extensive negotiations between 33 depart-  The Strategy also commits the government to
ments or commissions of the State Council,  amend the country's patent, trade mark and
the English translation is 5,300 words long  copyright laws. Thomas Pattloch, IP officer in
and consists of five parts: the preface; guid-  the EU Delegation in Beijing, described the
ing principles and strategic goals; strategic  strategy as a written endorsement of a real
focuses; specific tasks; and strategic meas-  roadmap which all the agencies in China must
ures. At the time of its release, IP practition-  follow.


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