WASHINGTON — Amid the buildup for the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China declared a tougher stance on protecting intellectual property rights, but the best measure of the impact will likely come long after the athletes depart.
The Chinese government unveiled the "Outline of National Intellectual Property Rights" this spring and Vice Premier Wang Qishan touted the initiative during his visit with U.S. cabinet members during last month's Strategic Economic Dialogue here.
Wang said China would undertake four specific steps to establish stronger intellectual property rights protections: timely revisions and implementation of legislation protecting patents, trademarks and copyrights; defining the boundaries of intellectual property rights to help "ensure a level playing field" and address abuses; speed up revisions of regulations and laws detailing the punishment for intellectual property violations, and start an educational program condemning piracy, counterfeiting and plagiarism.
The altered position on intellectual property from a country that has historically been a major source of counterfeit goods comes as several key global factors are intersecting. In addition to the Olympics, China faces two pending World Trade Organization cases filed by the U.S. over intellectual property, and there is growing outcry in Europe and the U.S. over the volume of counterfeit items from China.
Estimates of the amount that is stripped from the U.S. economy by pirated and counterfeit goods are as high as $250 billion annually. The concentration of so much manufacturing in a place with a lack of intellectual property protections, and which is now under intense scrutiny, is bound to have an impact, said Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University in New York.
"There is a kind of vortex circling around China and intellectual property," she said.
The Olympics puts China under a microscope, which could force a lot of issues to the surface and China is keenly aware of the scrutiny it will be under, experts said.
"China is about to be placed in the commercial spotlight of its history," said Mark Sommers, a trademark partner at the law firm of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner. "It is doing everything it can to assure the world that its taken the necessary steps and safeguards to make [the Olympics] a successful event, whether that's intellectual property rights or cleaning up the air."The Chinese vice premier wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal before the Strategic Economic Dialogue in which he said, "As a developing country in the process of accelerating industrialization and urbanization, China still has a long way to go before it can catch up with the U.S. in IPR generation, usage, protection and management. We hope that China and the U.S. can work more closely on intellectual property rights, duly recognize their disparities in capabilities and standards of IPR protection, and properly handle their differences and disputes."
In an effort to increase public awareness of these issues, Chinese officials created an anticounterfeiting DVD featuring actor Jackie Chan that could be shown on flights to Beijing this summer, said a U.S. government official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Industry experts have said they see a modest trend toward improvement of China's piracy and counterfeit enforcement efforts, the official said.
The Olympics is China's "coming out party," said Caroline Joiner, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center. Joiner said holding the Olympics in Beijing could hasten reforms.
"We have often said that what's really going to turn the tide in China is when they're own skin is in the game, when local industries have intellectual property to protect," Joiner said.
For most experts, the true litmus test of intellectual property reforms in China will come after the Olympics hoopla fades.
"The key test is when the cameras are gone and the world's eye is no longer on China," Sommers said. "What will China do to follow up the show? How long will the afterglow last? That's anyone's guess."
The recent moves by the Chinese government are "a good first step," said Bob Barchiesi, president of the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition, but it's not enough yet to guarantee the security of companies' intellectual property.
"I think you'll continue to see gradual improvements [after the Olympics], but I don't think you'll see that landscape change as quickly as intellectual property owners would like it to because a lot of it is economically driven," Barchiesi said.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye