Is Western Media Responsible for China’s Poor IP Reputation?

China’s piracy problem clearly impacts its intellectual property reputation on the world stage. However, Tian Lipu, head of China’s State Intellectual Property Office, also believes that western media may also be responsible.
In recent remarks to reporters, Tian stated: “Speaking honestly, there is a market. People use and buy pirated goods. [But] to a large extent, China’s intellectual property rights protection image has been distorted by Western media.”
“China’s image overseas is very poor. As soon as people hear China, they think of piracy and counterfeiting. We don’t deny (this problem), and we are continuing to battle against it,” he added.
Tian contends that the Western media is compounding China’s image as lax on IP oversight by only reporting on the problem, but not the steps that the country is taking to solve it.
“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. 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,” Tian noted.
Tian also highlighted that large companies like Apple are willing to manufacture their products in China. “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.”
As ZDNet reports, China has made strides to strengthen IP protections in recent years. According to the 2011 BSA global software piracy study, China’s software piracy rate fell to 77 percent, compared to 92 percent in 2003. Although the rate still exceeds the global average of 42 percent, it represents a significant step in the right direction. Nonetheless, there is work to be done. The International Intellectual Property Alliance also estimated that U.S. companies lost more $3.5 billion to pirated software in China last year.

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