Blair's visit to China and the first inklings of a deal to settle the textile dispute between the EC and PRC reminded me of an article that appeared on the SIPO (Chinese patent office) website not long ago. Entitled "2008 Beijing Time IP Protection in China" it focussed on the economic might of that country. According to that article, China is now the EU's main trading partner. Exports worldwide were US$1,100 billion in 2004 - much of it in computers and other electronic equipment.
There was a time when China presented problems for IPR owners. At one time clients used to grumble regularly about near perfect copies of their products finding their way back to Europe. Sometimes those copies emanated from my clients' owner licensees. I get far fewer complaints of that kind nowadays.
China has patent, copyright, trade mark, semiconductor topography and unfair competition laws that appear to give effective protection to intellectual assets. If the statistics in that article are right, such protection is effective. The current US administration - never an easy customer to please - has recently noted progress with IPR protection (see "U.S. Cites Progress with China on Intellectual Property Issues" 11 July 2005).