2009年4月29日 星期三

Intellectual property in China /巴基斯坦政府軍奪回主要城鎮

Intellectual property in China

Battle of ideas

Apr 23rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

Chinese companies are enforcing patents against foreign firms

FOR over a decade Schneider Electric of France has bombarded a Chinese firm, Chint Group, with lawsuits accusing it of copying its technology. But the tables turned on April 15th when the two companies settled an infringement case—with the French firm forking over $23m to Chint. The rich settlement against a foreign firm is a landmark. It serves as a reminder that Chinese companies are just as eager to defend patents as Western firms, and that China’s intellectual-property regime has been tightened in recent years.

Long the workshop of the world, China wants to be the brains as well. The country’s patent office leads the world in patent applications, more than 800,000 of which were filed in 2008. Most are for “petty” patents: middling technology that undergoes minimal review and receives only a 10-year term. Such patents are usually derided by research-intensive Western firms—but Schneider was stung by one that had been issued to Chint. And Chinese firms are increasingly filing “invention” patents that are rigorously scrutinised and receive 20 years of protection, as in the West (see chart). This year Chinese companies are poised to surpass foreign ones in receiving invention patents in China.

With the rush for patents has come an increase in disputes. Since 2006 more patent lawsuits have been filed in China than anywhere else, even litigious America. Most pit domestic firms against each other, but in recent years foreigners have found themselves on the receiving end too. In December Samsung, a South Korean conglomerate, was ordered to pay compensation to Holley, a Chinese telecoms firm. The recent victories and lucrative awards will open the floodgates to more suits, predicts Tony Chen of Jones Day, a law firm.

Intellectual property is relatively new to China. Patents date back to Venice in the 15th century, but Communist China did not allow them until 1985. Since 2006 it has pursued a deliberate policy of gathering as many patents as possible and developing home-grown technologies—not least because Chinese companies pay around $2 billion a year in licensing and royalties to American firms alone, according to America’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Chinese firms are also increasingly seeking patents abroad, a sign that they plan to protect their technology when exporting it to rich countries. They won 90 patents in America in 1999 but last year they received 1,225. That is still relatively few—IBM, an American technology giant, receives around 3,000 a year—but it is increasing quickly. Because it takes three to five years to issue a patent, the number issued to Chinese firms is expected to soar soon. The quality of patents issued in China is also improving. Revisions to the patent law that take effect in October strengthen the requirement for a patent’s novelty, bringing it up to global standards. Stronger patents are easier to enforce, opening the door to more lawsuits.

All these trends are important because countries that create intellectual property eventually enforce it as well, explains Dominique Guellec of the OECD. America, it is worth remembering, was the great copyright and patent infringer when it was a developing country in the 18th century.










Pakistan Claims to Retake Town

Published: April 29, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — After a week of strong criticism here and abroad over its inaction, the Pakistani military claimed on Wednesday to have reasserted control of Daggar, a key town just 60 miles from the capital in the strategic district of Buner which was overrun by hundreds of Taliban militants last week.

The development came one day after the military deployed fighter jets and helicopter gunships against the insurgents. It was not immediately clear what level of resistance the Taliban had offered.

Pakistan also agreed to move 6,000 troops from its Indian border to fight militants on its western border with Afghanistan, according to a Pakistani official who did not want to be identified discussing troop movements in advance.

But American officials, who welcomed the redeployment, said Pakistan was still not doing enough to fight the insurgents, who are tightening their hold on the country. The Americans expressed frustration that Pakistan was still rebuffing their offers to train more Pakistanis to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

News reports on Wednesday quoted an unidentified military spokesman as saying government troops dropped from helicopters near Daggar, the administrative center of Buner, to link up with other government forces in the region. There was no immediate word on casualties.

The campaign in Buner began Tuesday after government forces completed a two-day operation against Taliban militants in Dir, a neighboring district, said a military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Ather Abbas.

The Taliban advance into Buner has brought heavy pressure on the military from the United States and other Western countries. It has also fortified a growing consensus among Pakistani politicians and the public that the Taliban have gone too far and that the military should act to contain the spread of the insurgency.

Under threat of military action, the Taliban staged a show withdrawal from Buner at the end of last week, General Abbas said. But he said the militants were trying to expand the space they controlled beyond the Swat Valley, which borders Dir and Buner.

At a news conference, he played three tapes of what were described as telephone intercepts of the main Taliban leader, Mullah Fazlullah, talking to one of his commanders about making a show withdrawal for the news media while telling the fighters to put away their weapons and lie low.

“In Buner, people are living under coercion and in fear,” General Abbas said. “There was no reason to intimidate people in Buner, and the militants started intimidating people and forcibly recruiting young people to take them back to Swat for military training.”

“The government acted with patience,” he added, “but eventually there was no other way except to launch an operation.”

Earlier in the day, the new interior minister, Rehman Malik, said the Taliban had ignored repeated requests from the government of President Asif Ali Zardari to leave Buner. “I warn them to vacate the area,” Mr. Malik told reporters. “We are not going to spare them. Action will be taken if anyone tries to block our efforts to re-establish the writ of the government in Buner and other areas.”

Several events contributed to the shift among politicians and the public. Video of the flogging of a 17-year-old woman in Swat by the Taliban several weeks ago shocked many in the country. A radical cleric who helped negotiate the peace deal in Swat, Maulana Sufi Muhammad, said recently that Pakistani institutions like Parliament and the high courts were un-Islamic, a comment that angered politicians from all parties.

Finally, the militants’ move into new districts last week impelled the Pakistani Army to move against the Taliban.

The 6,000 troops to be shifted had originally been on Pakistan’s western border but were sent to the Indian border in December, after the terrorists’ attack in Mumbai in which 163 people were killed the previous month. India had responded to the attack, which Indian and American officials concluded was planned in Pakistan and carried out by Pakistanis, by massing troops on the Pakistani border.

The promised redeployment, which will essentially return Pakistan’s military presence in the northwest to pre-Mumbai levels, comes as American and Pakistani officials are preparing for what are likely to be tense meetings in Washington next week between President Obama, President Zardari and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.

American officials have alternately criticized and praised Pakistan, in the hope of goading it into taking tougher action against the Taliban, and on Tuesday they engaged in both strategies.

Early in the day, a senior military official, one of several American officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the security strategy of an ally, expressed anger about what he saw as Pakistan’s fecklessness in trying to combat militants within its borders.

“It is reasonable for Pakistanis and Americans alike to ask why there has not been a more robust, sustained and serious response to elements that assassinated Benazir Bhutto, blew up the Marriott Hotel, attacked a visiting cricket team and assaulted a police academy,” the official said, ticking off a series of violent events that began with the killing of the former prime minister. He said it was “inexplicable” that the incidents had not “galvanized the Pakistani military and civilian leaders to link arms in a comprehensive, sustained campaign to fight back.”

But later in the day, after the United States received word of the troop movement, the official took a different tone. “It’s too soon to say how it’s going to turn out,” the official said. “But it’s a promising sign that they finally recognize the existential threat to their country.”

American officials said they were continuing to press Pakistan to accept more American trainers, an issue likely to come up in the meetings next week. More than 70 American military advisers and technical specialists are already working in Pakistan to help its armed forces battle militants in the lawless tribal areas, but the United States would like to expand the effort.

Pakistan has balked, American officials said, because it does not want a large American presence in its country.

“There’s a red line about our advisers and any foreign boots on the ground in Pakistan right now,” a senior administration official said. He said that the United States was “doing everything we can within the constraints that are currently placed on our engagement to be as helpful as we can.”

The Pakistani military may have a difficult fight ahead. The Taliban have already been digging trenches and fortified positions, General Abbas said.

There are indications that the fighting in Dir has been heavier than Pakistani officials have acknowledged, and that the civilian cost has been high. The military said some 70 militants had been killed in three days of fighting.

But more than 30,000 civilians have fled their homes in the region, and some of them reported seeing bodies lying in the streets and the fields as they fled, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

“Neither the Taliban nor the government forces seem to care about the well-being of the residents of Lower Dir,” Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director, said in a statement.

Carlotta Gall reported from Islamabad, and Elisabeth Bumiller from Washington. Helene Cooper, Mark Mazzetti and Mark Landler contributed reporting from Washington. Alan Cowell contributed from London.