China disputes U.S. charges at WTO

Countries hold talks on IPR protection

BEIJING — Chinese trade officials have held talks with their U.S. counterparts in Geneva over the complaint filed by Washington with the World Trade Organization about China’s lack of action on protecting Intellectual Property Rights.

The consultations were held on Thursday and Friday under the WTO’s dispute settlement system, Chinese delegates told local media.

Washington has filed two cases against China: one over pirated copies of music and movies and another for placing market-access barriers against U.S. companies offering legitimate products.

Beijing has vowed to fight charges that it is too soft on piracy. While China has recently clamped down — most notably lowering the threshold for prosecution from 1,000 bootlegged DVDs or CDs to 500 and raising fines against counterfeiters — U.S. trade orgs regard the changes as too little, too late.

The complaints were filed April 11. Officials from both sides then have 60 days to resolve the issues by themselves before a WTO panel is convened to hear the case.

China is seriously irked by the charges.

The Chinese said the two-day consultations could help clarify certain issues and contribute to better communication between Beijing and Washington, but they accused the U.S. of failing “to correctly understand China’s legal system and basic concepts concerning IPR protection.”

The Chinese said the U.S. had spent a long time preparing a lengthy list of questions but gave China only a week to respond to them.

Three years after China’s accession to the WTO, the country doubled its quota on the number of foreign movies to be imported into the country on a revenue-sharing basis to 20 each year. And it increased the number that can enter on flat-fee terms to 40. But the prospect of further softening in the quotas in 2010, when all tariffs are to be eliminated, now looks more remote.

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