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CIOPORA Provides EC with a List of its Key Concerns as to PVP in China

On Monday, May 14, Alanna Rennie represented CIOPORA at the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) EU-China Business Stakeholder Consultation Meeting at the European Commission Department of Trade in Brussels. The meeting is part of the ongoing EU-China IP Dialogues which have been held on an annual basis since 2004. The objective of these dialogues is for China and the EU to share information on IPR strategies, multilateral and bilateral IPR issues, and national IP legislation and practices, with the goal of identifying shortcomings and making proposals for improvement.

The purpose of the meeting on May 14 was for the European Commission Department of Trade to update China business stakeholders on:

· the results of the last EU-China IP Dialogue of December 18, 2017 (Beijing)

· the agenda for the next EU-China IP Working Group on May 21, 2018 (Beijing)

· the Annual Work Plan 2018 and state of play of the EU technical cooperation programme (IP Key) China.

The meeting was moderated by Mr. Joerg Weberndoerfer, Senior IPR Policy Officer for the China, Hong Kong, Macao, Mongolia, and Taiwan region, and included approximately 15 participants representing various Intellectual Property interests, including the European Seed Association, The Publishers Association, Adidas, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation, and Ericsson amongst others.

Breeders’ wishlist

Prior to the meeting, Alanna and Edgar prepared a list of key concerns on Plant Variety Rights (PVR) in China which CIOPORA would like the EU Commission to incorporate into the EU-China IP Dialogue.

During the meeting, CIOPORA raised concern that PVR was not included as a priority area and inquired whether PVR would be addressed during the EU Commission Working Group trip to Beijing this May. Mr Weberndoerfer noted the increased interest in EU-China cooperation on PVR issues in recent years, but due to its technicality, PVR dialogue is conducted separately between the CPVO and the relevant Chinese ministries in the framework of the IP Key. Further on, CIOPORA emphasized that there is a strong indication that a new PVR law could be quite imminent and that the international industry should have an opportunity to comment on a new draft law. The European Seed Association mentioned that it was also under the impression that a draft law was imminent and reinforced that ESA stakeholders would also like to preview the draft law. Mr Weberndorfer agreed to address this topic during the Working Group trip to Beijing this May.

CIOPORA also highlighted that additional novelty defeating provisions were introduced under China’s revised Seed Law in 2015 and that these are particularly worrying for breeders as they involve circumstances outside of the breeders' control. CIOPORA stressed that these changes bring China out of conformity with the 1978 UPOV Convention. Mr Weberndoerfer agreed that this is a significant concern and asked CIOPORA to provide further information on this. After further correspondence, Mr Weberndoerfer has raised this concern with the EU Delegation in Beijing to identify the best options for an exchange on this with the Chinese government.

CIOPORA further emphasized that over the course of 2017 and 2018 China has opened 15 specialised IP tribunals in different China provinces, and inquired whether these tribunals will continue to open in other provinces. In particular, CIOPORA noted that a specialised IP tribunal has not yet been established in Yunnan and that PVR infringement in Yunnan is a big concern for breeders. Mr Weberndoerfer provided that to his knowledge the tribunals will continue to be established across China.

Another participant noted concerns in relation to China’s new trading routes under the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. These involve re-establishing old over-land and maritime trading routes between China and Europe. The participant noted that this is a “counterfeiter’s dream”, and so far no customs mechanisms had been put in place to fight counterfeiting on these trade routes. Mr Weberndoerfer agreed to put this on the agenda for the Working Group discussions.

The Latest on IPR in China

Some interesting insights from the meeting:

  • On February 21, 2018, the European Commission published a report on the “protection and enforcement of IPR in third countries”. The report identifies “priority countries” where the state of IPR protection and enforcement gives the greatest concern. China is listed as a top priority, see more information and the report here.

  • Major ministry re-shuffling was announced during the Communist Party Two-Session meeting in March this year. The State Intellectual Property Organisation (SIPO), previously only responsible for patents, is now also responsible for trademarks and geographical indications (GIs).

  • The EU Commission has joined the US as a co-complainer in the WTO on China’s regulations that effectively result in the forced transfer of innovation based intellectual property rights. Mr Weberndoerfer noted that China had expressed concerns about this and did not want the EU to launch a separate case against them.

The priority areas identified for the next year include:

  • Bad faith trademark applications

  • Online counterfeiting and piracy and Internet Service Provider (ISP) liability for online IP infringement

  • Pending copyright law

  • Developments in Trade Secret Law, including the new Anti-Unfair Competition Law

  • Continued judicial cooperation activities (academic cooperation is currently on hold)

  • Patent system amendments

  • Enforcement – including cooperation between customs and other authorities, developments, activities and statistics.

These priorities are expected to be redefined in the November 2018 Dialogue.

The CIOPORA Office will keep you closely informed on the EU-China IP Dialogues and provide updates in due course.


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