China sues US firms for piracy


China sues US firms for piracy

Antony Savvas

China is beginning to tackle its serious software piracy problem, and Chinese firms are now even suing American firms in US courts for alleged software intellectual property infringements.


Chinese plaintiffs have appeared in North American patent courts in recent months. In early 2006, Netac Technology, a Shezhen-based company, became the first Chinese company to sue a North American corporation for copyright infringement, when it brought a case in Texas .


John Lovelock, director general of the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), said, “There appears to be a growing tendency for Chinese companies to enforce their IP rights at home against foreign competitors. For example, Chinese courts have recently made findings favouring Starbucks and Dell Computers in IP cases.”


Lovelock said that as countries develop their own valuable IP, they become more protective of it.


Analyst IDC estimates that 84% of the software used in China in 2005 was unlicensed. However, China has recently announced a national working group for IPR protection, which aims to co-ordinate the country’s IP policies, and which is led by Chinese vice-premier Wu Yi.


China is also making it easier to impose jail sentences for IP violation, overhauling the rules governing disputes between IP owners and businesses, and is continuing its ‘Mountain Eagle’ police crackdown on IP crimes.


The Chinese government has also set up the China IPR Criminal Protection Forum, which will include representatives of the Chinese business community and the US and EU governments.

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