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China official defends record on fighting IPR thieves

Pirate problem exists, but we're working on it, says Tian


China’s top copyright official has defended his country’s record on fighting piracy, saying it is doing more than it is given credit for in the Western media, which he accused of ignoring genuine progress.

“China’s image overseas is very poor,” said Tian Lipu, head of China’s State Intellectual Property Office, speaking at the 18th Communist Party Congress in Beijing.

“Chinese enterprises purchase foreign books, music, movies, TV programs through the copyright trade … China’s IPR protection work has brought tangible benefits for many countries,” he said.

The country is often cited as home to the world’s worst intellectual property rights thieves, and the source of a large percentage of the world’s fake products.

But Tian said China was the world’s largest payer of patent rights while a quarter of all patent applications in the world came from China. It also paid more in trademark rights and royalties than anywhere else in the world, and was one of the largest consumers of real software.

However, the country is still notorious area for film and TV piracy and it’s often easier to buy pirated content in China than it is to buy the real thing, either by downloading or by going to a pirate DVD store, although these are becoming rarer as the online pirate market expands.

Tian spoke of how he had read the late Apple supremo Steve Jobs’ biography, which showed him that IPR was like the lifeblood of the U.S.

“China is currently setting up a system and relevant organizations, but the consciousness of intellectual property remains to be improved … the Jobs’ book is a textbook for learning about IPR in the U.S.,” he said. “IPR systems in China only began since economic reform started three years ago, but Britain and the U.S. have had hundreds of years to build up IPR protection.”