Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) have played an important role in encouraging and protecting innovation in today’s economy as well as upholding the economic order and fair competition of the market. Since joining the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1980, China has continued to establish and improve relevant intellectual property laws. A comprehensive IPR legal system has now been established that covers the main IPR issues. In 2019, for the first time, the number of China’s PCT international patent applications surpassed that of the US to rank first in the world. China has become a major player in intellectual property. However, with the development of the digital economy and the raising of international IPR standards, there are challenges in China’s IPR system. These include how regional protectionism affects the fairness in terms of IPR’s law enforcement, the compatibility among various intellectual property rules, discrepancies in comparison with international IPR standards, and the quality of the intellectual property itself.
The state of China’s IPR protection has certain impacts on China’s participation in regional and globalized economic development. With the development of a regionalized economy, stringent IPR protection standards are a barrier of entry for advanced Free Trade Areas (FTAs). The focus of this report is whether China’s IPR protection can align with high-standards enshrined in FTAs, in particular the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) that has higher standards than the World Trade Organization (WTO).
This report investigates and analyzes China’s IPR protection across three major dimensions. Firstly, the evolution of China’s IPR; Secondly, intellectual protection in the digital economy; Thirdly, comparisons between China’s intellectual protection and international standards. Following the evaluation of these three dimensions, the feasibility of China’s admissibility to the CPTPP will be explored from the IPR perspective.