Chinese authorities “can and should” address three particular areas of intellectual property rights, Commerce Dept. secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez told an IPR roundtable in Beijing.
Joining reps from 25 U.S. companies that want to do more business in China, Gutierrez said, “I believe that a mutually beneficial trading relationship depends on a number of factors. High among these are market access, transparency and intellectual property protection.”
Praising improvements China has made in trade and IP issues, Gutierrez nonetheless noted piracy and counterfeiting in China continue to cost U.S. biz interests at least $200 billion a year.
“And let me be frank,” he said. “Another victim of widespread IP theft in China is American support for expanding our trade relationship. Those who espouse protectionism as a legitimate economic policy have a loud voice. And they point to the lack of robust IP protection in China as a top reason why we should put protectionist policies in place.”
Gutierrez said protectionism would be “wrong” but didn’t rule out its possibility.
He recommended three courses of action. “One, China should lower its criminal thresholds for prosecuting those involved in commercial piracy and counterfeiting. Two, China should allow greater market access for audiovisual products. Three, China should join those countries that share their factories’ optical disc exemplars with the international laboratories that trace pirated discs to their source.”
Gutierrez said the further opening of domestic markets to U.S. movie and music companies wanting to sell product could cut the estimated $2.3 billion the copyright industry loses every year in China.