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Intellectual Property Law: Threat Level
China Pledges WTO Copyright, Trademark Cooperation
By Ryan Singel, Kevin Poulsen, Sarah Lai Stirland, Kim Zetter, and David Kravets
It's no surprise that China is home to a flourishing black market for U.S. trademarked and copyrighted goods.
What's surprising, though, is China's calm response Tuesday to a World Trade Organization report (.pdf) that concluded it was breaching its obligations under the World Trade Organization.
"As we strengthen our work on domestic intellectual property rights, we will continue to promote international exchanges and cooperation in order to encourage the healthy development of trade relations," Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Yao Jian said in a statement.
Such a conciliatory tone came a week after China took umbrage with comments from Timothy Geithner, the incoming U.S treasury secretary, who accused the Chinese government of "manipulating" the yuan. The communist regime said such comments do "not accord with reality."
The WTO, acting in a 2007 case brought by the United States, concluded on Monday a number of so-called "deficiencies" of China's intellectual property enforcement, including the unauthorized trademarked and copyrighted goods being sold openly throughout China.
The world body faulted China for allowing public auctions of counterfeited goods that the authorities have confiscated with the sole condition that bogus trademarks or brands be removed from the items. The WTO also faulted China for refusing to provide copyright protection for goods that state censors have not approved for lawful sale.
The United States wanted the trade organization to censure China for allegedly failing to prosecute pirates ? prosecutorial power the United States does not routinely pursue. The WTO, however, did not oblige, a position the United States said was disappointing.
Under former President George W. Bush, the White House in October successfully lobbied Congress to remove language from legislation that would allow the U.S. Justice Department to sue copyright infringers on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America and other content owners.
The legislation, however, created a U.S. copyright czar on par with the U.S. drug czar. President Barack Obama has not filled the position.
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