Intellectual Property: Rising Problems in Chinese Courts
Nearly thirty years into the digital age, the development of cyber technology continues to pose new innovations and issues. Questions of security, election integrity, and intellectual property face global powers. The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property published by the National Bureau of Asian Research describes the shifting challenges of IP theft. Hundreds of billions of dollars are lost annually due stolen IP, with Chinese actors being the primary instigators . Despite this major threat, the process to protect intellectual property against China and other actors has fallen flat.
Western governments have acknowledged for years the threat of China’s loose enforcement of IP laws. Western countries have been attempting to counteract China for years. In 2018, the United States launched a trade war with China; imposing tariffs on Chinese goods to address its poor IP practices and limit its rapid technological growth. Many western companies have resorted to legal action against Chinese firms, but the legal system in China has been criticized for its bias towards domestic companies. The lack of a cohesive and effective response from western nations has enabled China to continue with its IP practices.
These legal issues have slowed efforts aiming to mitigate ChinaÕs IP threats. Since 2020, four cases heard by Chinese courts have set the precedent regarding the Asian superpower handling intellectual property. Huawei Technologies Co., Xiaomi Inc. and BBK Electronics are Chinese corporations in the extremely competitive technology sector, and all benefited from favorable rulings from Chinese courts . The three companies won anti-suit injunctions, preventing true patent owners across the globe from suing Chinese firms . Within other markets, China has chosen an alternative path and granted western firms the rights to certain products. This allows for a small level of deniability to counter any general accusations concerning the weak Chinese IP laws.
Despite the imbalance within Chinese courts, the European Union has attempted litigation against China in December of 2022 through the World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Body. The EU brought a case focusing on Lithuania and ChinaÕs harmful trade limitations. The Europeans argue that ÒChina has applied discriminatory and coercive measures with its policiesÓ . The imports of Lithuanian goods have been halted, barriers have been created for multinational firms, and trade from the European nation China has plummeted by 80% in a ten-month period of 2022 . China has stated that it will respect the decision of the WTO committee, however the proceedings can be longwinded and compliance with the ruling is not a guarantee.
ChinaÕs ability to manipulate intellectual property through the courts should never have been allowed. By various international agreements such as Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) the WTO should maintain the original purpose of the treaty to ensure open and equal trade among all nations.