[China] China IP debate: "Everyone's afraid their tech will be stolen. . ."


China wants Western technology. It also wants to export its own technology to the West. The key question is whether the rest of the world will be willing to go along given the widely held belief that China is the "knockoff capital of the universe."


When Zhongguancun Haidian Science Park, China’s foremost high-tech cluster located in Beijing's Haidian district, held its annual conference here this week, organizers boldly put “technology transfer” at the top of their agenda. More than 2,000 attendees showed up, including Chinese government officials and academics along with executives from the U.S., Europe and elsewhere in Asia.


For China, technology transfer is essential to narrowing the innovation gap. It’s critical to Beijing's global strategy, according to both international and Chinese representatives at the forum.


Beijing, on one hand, demands active development of indigenous technologies by setting a lofty national goal for Chinese scientists and engineers to file 2 million patents annually by 2015. Still, China is keenly aware of its chronic technology gap with the West, and knows that it can’t catch up by going it alone.


IP rights were a hot topic at the Zhongguancun Haidian Science Park conference.

Caught between what seems like two contradictory approaches to IP protection (internal development vs. technology transfer), one Chinese attendee asked the panel (above): “To what extent should we rely on foreign countries for innovations?”


Borrowed innovation


 Guo Lin Zhou, an official at China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), repleid, “It’s OK to rely on technologies developed abroad.” He explained that innovations can come in three different flavors: “First, regional innovation; second, integrated innovation; and the third, borrowed, digested and reinvented innovation.” 


 In order to meet China’s 2020 Innovation goals, he added, “We still have to learn from foreign countries and borrow their practices.”


 Panelist Dongmin Chen, dean of the school of innovation and entrepreneurship at Pekin University, pounced on the MOST official’s comments: “The third idea for innovation – described as ‘borrowed/digested/reinvented’ – is viewed as infringement of [IP rights] in other countries.”


 If China does not adopt ethical IPR protections as commonly accepted in the West, Chen explained, “Everyone is afraid of dealing with China because of the fear that his technology is going to get stolen.” He added that China needs to build a credible international technology transfer platform that encourages overseas IP holders to market their technology in China.


 The Beijing forum also debated: specific technologies sought by China and the United States; routes China can take in technology transfers, including joint ventures and licensing; why international technology transfer is necessary for China; and the hurdles China still needs to clear before convincing the world of China’s commitment to IP protection.


 Too many, that remains a hard sell.


Source: EETimes