Fortification plans

Published: Monday 30 June 2003

China is tightening norms toprotect scientific and technological research within its boundaries. The country's ministry of science and technology wants all public and private organisations involved in state-funded research to have special departments and funds for intellectual property protection. Moreover, institutes will have to investigate beforehand if a patent has already been taken on research they are planning to undertake -- in China or abroad. They will have to change their projects if the patent exists.

Training courses in intellectual property rights will become mandatory for researchers. The government will also provide subsidies to institutes engaged in big research programmes when they apply for patents in other countries. The ministry is hopeful that the new rules will safeguard technological innovation and speed up commercialisation of new technologies.

According to Tian Lipu, vice-commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office, research institutes are more inclined towards publishing academic papers related to new technologies than applying for patents or putting them to commercial use. "Domestic companies still concentrate on lower-level patent applications, such as traditional Chinese medicine, soft drinks and food," he said, adding, "They should make greater efforts to develop patented technologies in such fields as optics and information technology."

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