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China takes steps to protect intellectual property rights

China has passed into law new programmes to protect intellectual property rights since the 17th Sino-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in 2006.

As part of a crackdown on pirated software, the government ordered municipal authorities to buy computers with pre-installed legitimate software and required all domestic and imported computers to be sold with legitimate software pre-installed.

Sales of legitimate software in China seem to have benefited as a result. Microsoft, for instance, projected in April a 20% rise for the year's sales in China due to a combination of government anti-piracy efforts and new products. And China's software industry registered a 23.1% rise in sales from 390 billion yuan ($52.77bn) in 2005 to 480 billion yuan in 2006.

In 2007, China's Supreme Court issued new judicial interpretations, which lowered the threshold for prosecution of those making or selling counterfeit products. Anyone who manufactures 500 or more counterfeit copies of computer software, music, movies, TV series or other audio-video products can be prosecuted and imprisoned for up to seven years.

Special courts for IPR cases were established across the country, including 172 courts of appeal and 140 collegial panels. Furthermore, the government has rolled out advocacy campaigns to raise public awareness of IPR laws, particularly among local officials and corporate officials.

China claims to have “consistently worked against piracy.” Statistics from the Supreme Court indicate that Chinese courts handled 769 IPR cases in 2006 and prosecuted 1,212 offenders, up 52.2 percent and 62.21 percent, respectively, from 2005.

Story filed 17.12.07

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