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Nation's Protection System Works Well, Says Market Expert


  China has a "very good workable intellectual property protection system", which is different from that in the United States, yet right and appropriate for China, a senior US professional said.

  "The problem most Western brand owners have is not that the Chinese have a bad system, but that they often don't know how to make that system work," said William Mansfield, IP director for Abro Industries Inc, which is based in South Bend, Indiana, and has been in business for 75 years.

  The company makes nonelectronic consumer goods such as glue, tape and engine oil.

  Entering the Chinese market in 2008, Abro has been increasing its manufacturing and sales in China over the last five years. It has opened its first overseas branch office in Beijing and hired Chinese employees.

  The importance of respecting local rules should not be neglected, Mansfield said.

  "It's not their job to conform their system to mine. It's my job to learn and understand their system. If I want help there, I need to comply with their rules," he said. "Our strong position in China comes from our focus on working with the Chinese as equals."

  People should also show respect to differences in different nations, he said.

  "I've been to 55 countries personally and we've worked in probably 160. In each place there's something a little different."

  It is probably true that many brands have more counterfeit products in China than in some other countries, but it is only because most things are made in China, he said.

  The most important thing is that Chinese officials strongly value the role that the law plays in keeping society well-functioning, as they are aware of the importance of legality and the value of commerce, he said.

  "Chinese officials more than any other officials I've dealt with understand the role that foreign commerce plays in their domestic prosperity, and they are very serious about protecting it," he added.

  In recent years, the total number of patent law enforcement cases in China has maintained rapid growth, indicating that the Chinese government has continuously stepped up its crackdown on various kinds of infringement.

  The latest data from China's State Intellectual Property Office show that in the first half of 2017, national patent administrative law enforcement cases totaled 15,411, an increase of 23.3 percent year-on-year.

  In September, the Action Plan for Protecting Foreign Companies' Intellectual Property Rights was published by 12 Chinese departments, which is widely seen as the Chinese government's latest determination to continuously protect IP rights.

  According to Mansfield, the Chinese system offers much better training and judges are becoming more knowledgeable about it.

  Back in 2014, at the 10th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress, the Chinese government voted to establish IP courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

  The success of the IP courts in those test cities has encouraged the Chinese government to roll out additional similar courts in other cities. Earlier this year, four additional specialized IP tribunals were established in Nanjing, Suzhou, Chengdu and Wuhan.

  However, it seems that the Chinese government has received "virtually no credit for its efforts", said Mansfield.

  When testifying on behalf of Abro before the Section 301 Committee at an International Trade Commission hearing in October, Mansfield represented the only US company that opposed a so-called Section 301 investigation into China's alleged IP misappropriation launched by the US trade representative.

  "When we heard about this, we wanted to come to testify, because in that sort of hearing you tend to get a lot of people who have a problem to come out and talk. But what you don't get is all the people whose activities are going well.

  "I feel like somebody needs to go and say that truth as well, and I hope that will be considered in the course of writing the 301 report," said Mansfield.

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