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The Surprising Rise of China As IP Powerhouse (techcrunch.com) 150

hackingbear quotes a report from TechCrunch: China is not only taking the spotlight in strong defense of global markets and free trade, filling a vacuum left by retreating Western capitalist democracies, China is quickly becoming a (if not the) global leader in intellectual property protection and enforcement. And there too, just as Western democracies (especially the United States) have grown increasingly skeptical of the value of intellectual property and have weakened protection and enforcement, China has been steadily advancing its own intellectual property system and the protected assets of its companies and citizens. In addition to filing twice as many patents as the U.S., China is increasingly being selected as a key venue for patent litigation between non-Chinese companies. Why? Litigants feel they are treated fairly. Reports indicated that in 2015, 65 foreign plaintiffs won all of their cases against other foreign companies before Beijing's IP court. And even foreign plaintiffs suing Chinese companies won about 81 percent of their patent cases, roughly the same as domestic Chinese plaintiffs. China's journey from piracy to protection models the journeys of other Western and Asian countries. While building its industrial economies, the U.S. and major European powers violated IP laws with no consideration. As reported by The Guardian, Doron Ben-Atar, a history professor at Fordham University, has noted that "U.S. and every major European state engaged in technology piracy and industrial espionage in the 18th and 19th century." It took Western economies a hundred or more years to change that behavior. China's mind-whipping change is happening over decades, not centuries.
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The Surprising Rise of China As IP Powerhouse

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Chinese can only copy and make lower quality stuff" is this stupid arrogant colonialist misconception.

    They are as smart as all of us humans, and if they get a decent education, they are as capable of producing "IP" and of defending it in court.

    Just wait and see. Oh, USA, seems you lived for too long from rent. You are going to crumble like the Soviet empire did, shortly ago. We'll see some little wars in your backyard, the once proud bald eagle eating flies and worms.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They are capable, but why bother producing IP yourself if someone else has already done the heavy lifting?

      You can just woosh in, take what's theirs, and they will have a horrible time trying to take you on. I've even heard people defending Chinese IP thieves saying that the person who came up with it should have worked with the Chinese from the beginning... haha, yeah it might have stopped them from stealing it and you get nothing, but that's not really an excuse.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 13, 2017 @06:11AM (#54227317)

      As someone who lives in China and works with western companies that manufacture goods here, I can tell you that the stereotype of copying and low-quality goods is 100% true. Although the article does have nuggets of truth (it was in Beijing's 5-year plan was to patent as many things as they could, then raise the quality of those patents), I wouldn't call China an innovation powerhouse just yet. They have tainted their image and reputation with their antics over the last couple of decades.

      America's strength is in innovation and it will always be. When most of us think of innovation here on /. we think of tech (e.g., Tesla, Facebook, Google, etc). But innovation is much broader than that. For example, why does China not see any innovation in the pharmaceutical space? Where are those bleeding edge drugs for HIV, hepatitis C, fibromyalgia? I think you'll see a lot of tech innovation in China because that is largely what they have been exposed to in the last few decades

      I agree with your statement that they are as smart as all of us... a large number of highly educated mainland Chinese were in fact educated in the west, including top US universities. It's hard to have respect for the kid who copies your homework, regardless of their intelligence or ability. The defense to this is quite often "every country that ever got rich copied, including the US". True, the US copied Britain, who copied Italy (textiles) and so on. That was 100 years ago, how we regarded and saw IP and hence the law was different. Everyone in the west copied each other, but everyone innovated at the same time. Hence the "revolution" in the Industrial Revolution. I'm sorry that China missed out on that because it was too busy being insular, but it can't leverage unfair competition to catch up.

      In 2013 China created a 3-region IP court system to begin enforcement. The law however lags far behind -- for instance, it is virtually impossible to discover an infringing product as there is no legal avenue for this -- you have to illegally plant an investigator inside a factory to catch people in the act. Alternatively, you have to get an official to witness you purchasing an infringing product from the source (which is ridiculous). Meanwhile, they defend local companies that sue the crap out of western companies. They've gotten to the point where they are ready to start pushing their products and services outside of China, so it's not surprising that they will do what suits them -- which is to get serious about IP enforcement. This is the stereotypical Chinese way of thinking in any legal dispute or the like --- there are no truths or ideologies -- you do what suits you and define things in a way that benefits you, even if you contradict yourself later. Sure, every country does this, but China take it to an extreme.

      Educational reading:
      https://hbr.org/2010/12/china-vs-the-world-whose-technology-is-it
      http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/security/chinas-new-rules-ask-tech-firms-to-hand-over-source-code
      https://qz.com/771727/chinas-factories-in-shenzhen-can-copy-products-at-breakneck-speed-and-its-time-for-the-rest-of-the-world-to-get-over-it/
      http://www.chinalawblog.com/2016/02/china-nnn-agreements.html
      http://abovethelaw.com/2016/11/china-product-cloning-and-the-death-of-first-to-market/
      http://thefederalist.com/2016/08/02/why-access-to-china-can-be-suicide-for-u-s-companies/

      • This sounds like Microsoft in the 90s.
    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      Indeed, it's not surprising at all. Chinese have been studying and done Ph.D. research at Western universities, financed by Western countries and then left for home with all their new knowledge for at least 30 years now. It's a miracle that it took so long to make China an IP powerhouse!

    • by gatkinso ( 15975 )

      As far as the Chinese go, they are simply reacting to their own business practices - trying to prevent other nations from doing what they did: steal their technology.
      This is doomed to failure. Of course they CAN produce great original technology... but DO they? Not really. That is way to expensive.

      As to your other point: All great nations fall. But this one won't in your life time.

      Besides the modern definition of "fall" isn't what it used to be: some analytics saying an obscure growth metric trajecto

    • They are as smart as all of us humans, and if they get a decent education, they are as capable of producing "IP" and of defending it in court.

      Well, first question, are they getting a decent education? Our own education system is pretty well-laden with bullshit lies. What's theirs like? Since they have a more fascist society than we do, they probably have more of the sort of lies which are needed to maintain it.

      Just wait and see.

      We have been waiting, but China hasn't invented much in the last thousand years [wikipedia.org]* and it produces a higher percentage of completely bogus scientific papers than any other nation. (Not a higher percentage of the total, but a higher percentage of their output.) So where is the evidence that the Chinese are capable of first-rate production of IP that people want to consume?

      Sorry about not linking to the section, the anchor didn't actually work. Look at the list of modern Chinese inventions and you will further see that it is at least half bullshit. Shit like "Car fueled by charcoal" (wood gas is not a news flash) and "Hydrogen bicycle" (fuel cells are not a news flash and neither are electric bikes) is needed to pad out the few legitimate discoveries, whose importance I do not want to downplay. And then there's garbage like "Cure of a solid cancer: In 1956, Min Chiu Li, who was educated and worked in the USA after leaving China because of the communist takeover, and Roy Hertz" ... yeah, not Chinese. That's American. Thanks. Or "Passenger drone", that's a blatant lie. That was done by a hobbyist first, as usual, and not a Chinese one. "Radar-absorbing active stealth material" is another American invention. "Self-balancing scooter (hoverboard)" was not only invented by a hobbyist but uh, Segway? That's just a hoverboard with a handle to make it less likely to fucking break your neck.

      So in short, the evidence strongly contradicts your position. It strongly suggests that a few exceptional outliers aside, the Chinese are only currently capable of imitating the hard work of others. It's the only thing they've been practicing as a culture for almost a thousand years. Fit in, keep your head down, be like everyone else or you're going to lose that head. Otherwise, China wouldn't have to pad out its list of accomplishments with lies.

    • by zm ( 257549 )

      We will outsorce basic manufacturing to where labor is cheap, like China, then we protect our own IP and business connections and just rake in all the profits. Nothing can go wrong with this plan.

    • by bluelip ( 123578 )

      Anonymous Coward. That says a lot.

      China is full of rip-offs. That's what they specialize in. They have a couple of patents now and expect and have suddenly become aware of IP?

      Buy something on Aliexpress and witness the "greatness" of Chinese manufacturing. The stuff is junk.

      The best Chinese food was developed elsewhere.

    • "Chinese can only copy and make lower quality stuff" is this stupid arrogant colonialist misconception.

      But isn't the point of the article that the Chinese have copied the western IP enforcement and court system?

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        That's like saying Russia has copied Western democracies. To reuse a paraphrase from Douglas Adams, Russia is above tyranny like a brick is above the Sargasso Sea.

    • They are as smart as all of us humans, and if they get a decent education, they are as capable of producing "IP" and of defending it in court.

      The problem with the Chinese isn't a lack of intelligence, it is their political system and their culture.

      Oh, USA, seems you lived for too long from rent. You are going to crumble like the Soviet empire did, shortly ago.

      The US may well "crumble". If we do, it is because we are adopting more and more Chinese-style policies: placing the needs of the community ahead of i

    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      IP is a losing man's game anyway, though it does not shock me that a totalitarian state like china would be interested in imaginary property.

      • IP is a losing man's game anyway, though it does not shock me that a totalitarian state like china would be interested in imaginary property.

        It certainly looks to me like it's a viable strategy so long as corporations are able to buy laws. After all, a mouse has successfully prevented any copyrights from expiring since he was born.

    • by aprentic ( 1832 )

      Yeah. I don't know why this would surprise anyone.
      China has a ton of people and they've made R&D a national priority.

      Even without that the typical trend among emerging powers is to steal first and invent later.
      This exactly the trajectory that the US took early on. See "Slater the Traiter" or look up check http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/... [foreignpolicy.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How is this surprising???
    China has been a major powerhouse of labor (in all forms) for decades.
    Lets face it if you start by copying someone elses work , then the natural progression is to understand how it works, and then to actually make your own improved version.. eventually you start innovating on your own..
    The rest of the world has let this happen with its complacency and laziness.
    The fact that they started from a platform of knowledge has speed up their progress and the sheer number of bodies/brains bo

  • lol what is this, The Onion?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The world learned that starting up business in China was a good way to get fucked over and have all your secrets stolen. All the companies left and China is trying to woo them back to fuck them in the other hole.

  • China - you may be a new IP powerhouse, but just try taking a flight on United Airlines. We'll show you!
  • I am wholly unsurprised that they have IP after hacking our entire infrastructure.
  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday April 13, 2017 @06:06AM (#54227299)
    They may have IP, but do they have TCP or UDP yet?
    • They may have IP, but do they have TCP or UDP yet?

      Damn, you beat me to it - I came here to ask the same thing.

      On a similar note, of course they are an Internet Protocol Powerhouse - they have billions and billions of users!

      • by epine ( 68316 )

        Actually, you only came second out of the small group of readers who didn't also have a second response to the day's story that was more worth the bother of typing out.

        It's one of those tasks in life that naturally goes to the few.

        Perhaps if I had twenty hands, and could race to be first on all my instantaneous takes at the same time I would finally embrace the joy—the joy I have witnesses so many times in others—of rushing to post the obvious.

        I'm at such a huge disadvantage here. By the time I

  • by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Thursday April 13, 2017 @06:24AM (#54227347)

    This is quite an interesting development, but it also doesn't surprise me. The patent system in the USA has basically jumped the shark now. You can get patents on almost anything, no matter how obvious or ridiculous it might be, and the more money you can spend on an attorney who has no idea how anything works but can get a list of words past the USPTO, the more absurd the patents can be. The result is that the system is now stuffed full of rubbish patents that are either at risk of invalidation, contradictory, or so specific that they are trivial to walk around (but add to the body of 'prior art' that can be used to invalidate other patents). All you can really do with patents now is drag someone into court and waste a lot of money on litigation. Just look at the Apple/Samsung fiasco to see how this works from a company that put a lot of effort into protecting its big invention.

    It seems like the Chinese are just playing the game as well and benefiting from their lower costs to do it much more effectively. Among those I know with engineering companies, almost everyone just patents as a defensive strategy to prevent patent trolls coming along and dragging them into court (the mutually assured destruction nature of aggressive patent litigation doesn't apply to these NPEs). In a way I welcome the break down of the system in this way. Eventually everything will be patented ten times, making it very hard for a troll to gain much traction against legitimate companies trying to do useful things.

  • This is nothing but anti Western propaganda.
  • Dear slashdotters: If this is surprising to you, then you are morons. China has been protecting its IP while shitting on everyone else's IP laws since time was time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Right, that must be why some Chinese store owners are open only to western visitors, they don't let Chinese people from their own country in because they know their shit will be copied before they know it, and there's nothing they can do about it.

      Take this from someone who actually knows this.

  • Or, to be more precise, in cases where two foreign companies battled it out, one of them won in 100% of the cases.

    Oh, the humanity...

  • Early in the process they stole IP to increase the rate of convergence, which I guess worked so well that they hit the point where creation surpasses theft much harder than others did. Or maybe this is just what converging with modern levels of development looks like. Either way, it's another sign of them hitting the plateau where the marginal returns of development diminish to almost nothing.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Retreating Western democracies? More like foolish and outmaneuvered western democracies.

    Western democracies have become skeptical about the value of IP and have weakened protections? On some other planet perhaps but not on this earth. Strengthening of protections and unifying these protections has been the obvious action by the west. So a complete fiction by Techcrunch.

    US and European...umm..."powers" violated IP with no consideration? Again patently false. And yes I used "patently" on purpose because the

  • by kilodelta ( 843627 ) on Thursday April 13, 2017 @08:15AM (#54227657) Homepage
    I recently purchased a TYT MD-380 DMR handheld transceiver. It's Chinese of course, even the manual is in Chinglish. But I looked up it's FCC ID and I note they viciously try to protect the block diagram and schematics for the unit. A bit of googling turned those up though.
  • IP is unethical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BeanThere ( 28381 ) on Thursday April 13, 2017 @08:36AM (#54227715)

    "Intellectual Property" should be abolished; patents in particular are evil. Patents are one of the biggest reasons we in 2017 we have 'robbed of our Jetsons future'.

    • "Intellectual Property" should be abolished; patents in particular are evil. Patents are one of the biggest reasons we in 2017 we have 'robbed of our Jetsons future'.

      While this entire thread is full of thoughtful discussions that defend their arguments with logic and referenced facts, the above post has none of these traits, and should not be modded up and encouraged. Although a reader or moderator may have a knee jerk reaction to agree because we all know sticking to the man is fun, that particular post does nothing to explain "why" patents should be abolished and "how" patents robbed us of the Jetsons future. This is a poor argument, and not a terribly original one. T

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Like a reformed smoker, China will protest the loudest when someone infringes on one of THEIR patents.
    When they had little IP, they had no interest in protecting anyone else's. They stole all the ideas they could.
    Now they are starting to have some IP, they want to keep the next set of 3rd world hell holes from using it.
    Quite predictable.

  • Is that for now, it seems that trying IP cases in China's courts results in fair verdicts. But note that this in no way impacts other areas that might be of concern such as human rights and the little guy being screwed over by the rich big guy in their legal system. And I sure wouldn't conclude that any awesome political freedoms are coming to the average Chinese citizen because China now defends global markets and free trade. Look at Hong Kong.
  • majority of manufacturing, etc. Otherwise, it works against you.
    However, the real problem is that CHina does not respect OTHER's IP, only CHina's.
  • Shill (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oh_my_080980980 ( 773867 ) on Thursday April 13, 2017 @09:31AM (#54227929)
    The author is the former president of the American Intellectual Property Law Association. It's a shill piece.

    Defenders of IP? Seriously. Can you explain the rampant piracy.

    Defenders of global markets and free trade? Can you say state run/controller businesses, slave labor and currency devaluation.

    Sorry you can't be taken seriously when you ignore how China operates.
    • Defenders of IP? Seriously. Can you explain the rampant piracy.

      Because the Chinese market (still) is dominant by huge number of small and tiny businesses, whereas the US is dominant by big businesses like Walmart. There are no effective ways to enforce millions of small poor targets whereas big corps are big and worth-while targets for the lawyers. On the other hand, try start a local store in the US to see how hard it becomes to compete against the mega store chain. Same for quality control problem

      Secondary, it is a matter of stage of economic development. It's like e

  • Companies with long-term vision must place bets accordingly.

    Anybody with long-term vision will know that "IP" is a disaster in the making and should be lobbying to minimize it's scope. Patents only inhibit progress.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    USA: China copies everything. China needs to play by our rules.

    China: Okay. We can do that. We can crank out more patents than you can shake a stick at. If you want to make anything, you have to deal with us.

  • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Thursday April 13, 2017 @10:22AM (#54228129)

    In addition to filing twice as many patents as the U.S.

    Well, that sure is a sign of innovation! /sarcasm

    China is increasingly being selected as a key venue for patent litigation between non-Chinese companies. Why?

    Perhaps because it is a totalitarian state friendly to the interests of well-connected corporations?

    Litigants feel they are treated fairly. Reports indicated that in 2015, 65 foreign plaintiffs won all of their cases against other foreign companies before Beijing's IP court.

    Ah, thought so!

  • by pscottdv ( 676889 ) on Thursday April 13, 2017 @11:07AM (#54228393)

    Copyright keeps getting extended. People are locked out of fixing their own equipment. How could anyone possibly say that western countries are weakening their IP protection.

    • "Intellectual property" is a misnomer, simply because there is no IP law, nor property. Rather, there are at least three separate and very different laws: Patent law; Copyright law; Trademark law. Each specify certain rights and limitations on creative work and how it can be used and licensed. Although, property does not come into the picture with any of them. Furthermore, regarding the right to (or not to) modify devices and break digital locks is yet another separate US act.

      The summary spoke about the pat

  • just as Western democracies (especially the United States) have grown increasingly skeptical of the value of intellectual property and have weakened protection and enforcement

    What? The author must have been living under a rock for the past 20 years. DMCA, EUCD, software patents, western democracies have gone way to far in the protection and enforcement of intellectual property.

    You can't even legally rip a DVD to watch it on your PC/tablet/phone/whatever in many western democracies.

  • The PRC as IP king is ironic considering how little respect the PRC has for the IP of others.
    The largest piracy site is nothing like Pirate Bay but is Baidu which is owned by the PRC and often has new cinema releases an hour after pressing and way before they make the theater.

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