Intellectual Property Protection: Emphasizing on Communication

2010/12/05,By Sarah Luo, China IP,[Comprehensive Reports]

IPR2 is the second partnership project between the European Union and the People’s Republic of China on the protection of intellectual property rights in China. The Ministry of Commerce is the Chinese IP implementing organization. The European Patent Office is the European IP implementing organization. With more than EUR 16 million in joint funding over 4 years to 2011, IPR2 aims to strengthen the enforcement of IPR by targeting the reliability, efficiency and accessibility of the Chinese IP protection system through holding different activities such as workshops, meetings, training programs, information management as well as close cooperation with Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises.
When talking about EU-China IPR activities, IPR2 is the first word that comes to mind for insiders. And if you are talking about IPR2, you simply must mention Pandolfi Carlo; a technical assistance team leader and highly regarded figure in the IPR2 community.
Mr. Pandolfi was born in Turin, Italy in 1959. When asked about his memories and impressions of his hometown, he cheerfully describes the city as full of a gothic atmosphere with artful treasures and unique constructions. Turin is no bigger than most Chinese cities or towns; with a population of more or less 1 million. However, the small city has endowed him with the special understanding about humanity and nature. In his viewpoint, art, food and climate constitute the common elements of all historical yet highly industrialized cities. He consistently plays the role of a communication bridge between different areas and regions. No matter how trivial the matter, he will plunge into the work enthusiastically. When asked about his impression of China and China’s IP development, he said it couldn’t be expressed in a few words.
Mr. Pandolfi joined the IPR2 project in 2008 as the team leader. Before joining IPR2, he committed himself to IPR communication and traveled among EU member countries. With a doctor’s degree in physics and rich IP knowledge on patents, he has been involved in international cooperation activities for the European Patent Office for about 15 years. Initially in charge of the formulation and follow-up of cooperation activities between contracting states and the EPO, he also coordinated the political debate and the revision of the cooperation programmes.
Later, setting up and launching an EPO liaison Bureau in Brussels became a reality. At the same time, Carlo managed IT and IP projects with the Trilateral Partners, namely, the EPO, the Japanese Patent Office and the United States Patent Office. His coming to China will add a totally new page to his communication book.
The first interview invitation from China IP was on the media workshop of IPR2. The second one came after the press release of the, “new legal platform for intellectual property in the EU.” This is the third time we have had the honor to interview Mr. Pandolfi! With questions and expectations, we entered his office in Beijing for a discussing of his life experience, the operational status of IPR2 as well as some hot IP topics.
China IP: You received a doctorate degree in physics. Why did you choose intellectual property as your career?
Mr. Pandolfi: When I was studying, it was a long time ago. IP was not a primary major at the university, and was only offered as a secondary one. So I started with technique background working for the industry. Later I realized the importance of IP enforcement in the EU in my career, and about twenty years ago I decided to move into patent protection. That’s how I got into patent protection and that’s why I moved from technique background to a more legal focus. It is a quite common process in Europe, to complete the technique background with intellectual property by going into patent protection. The fact is that if you talk about patent protection, it is mainly a technique issue which needs to be described legally. Therefore, there is a need to somehow combine technical knowledge with IP knowledge.
China IP: Were you assigned to China or did you choose to work in China?
Mr. Pandolfi: I personally applied for this job. I found the job vacancy and was interested to have a try. I have been worked for many years on cooperation between China and Europe. A great deal of time in my career has been dedicated to cooperation in general. The first time I came to China was in 1993. Two years later some Chinese leaders were sent to Europe for an exchange. I went to China as part of the cooperation exchange. In 2007 I applied for this job.
As for the details of exchange, we cooperated with 13 main authorities related with intellectual property. One main focus today is the enforcement of IP laws. To be exact, we bring Chinese experts together with European exports and help them exchange thoughts and opinions. They illustrate how the laws are enforced in China and how the laws are maintained in Europe, as well as highlight the similarities and differences. Based on the questions taken onto tables, they are able to revitalize the laws. The purpose is for a common understanding, or a better understanding of what the effective mechanism for enforcement may be.
All IPR2 cooperation partners are very actively involved in the National Intellectual Property Strategy and in the annual action plans. This makes our working environment extremely dynamic and exciting.
China IP: As the important cooperation program between EU and China, what kinds of technical supports does IPR2 project provide?
Mr. Pandolfi: Providing expertise is the key function of the IPR2 cooperation: by bringing European and Chinese experts in contact with government officials, cooperation addresses issues from law revision to enforcement procedures and training measures. The exchange between China and Europe clarifies the scope of IPR protection frameworks and increases confidence in dealing with IPR procedures. The wealth of information created through those exchanges remains with the involved agencies and in part is made available to the general public and industry. The IPR cooperation is implemented together with government officials. The support to industry comes as a consequence of the increased capacity of national agencies to provide services to the users of the IP system. Having said that, a number of support services are becoming available as spin offs of the IPR2 cooperation. Training material is published on the project web site ; to mention a few, both Chinese and European users can find easy to read IPR guides (roadmaps), a search tool on IP law, and manuals on IPR protection in specific areas.
China IP: In which aspects is IPR1 different from IPR2?  What are your expectations for IPR3?
Mr. Pandolfi: When IPR1 was written, China was pursuing accession to WTO. Consequently, work focused on making IP laws compliant to the requirements for accession. Now, as we have just discussed, IPR2 includes the implementation of the law and law enforcement in its portfolio. Both the EU and China are considering the opportunity for an IPR3 cooperation framework. At this stage I know too little to reply precisely. I have set a personal target: If there is an IPR3 project, my aim is to write to you using the Chinese language.
China IP:  What do you think of IP cooperation between countries?
Mr. Pandolfi: For the majority of the past 20 years I have been involved in IPR cooperation activities and I always find this work extremely rewarding. As you know, the protection of intellectual property is a discipline evolving under the changing demands of international trade. The progress in intellectual property issues, achieved in the international arena through cooperation measures, makes the investments in cooperation worthwhile to both partners.
China IP: With economic development, the Chinese government and companies are placing more importance on IP protection. Compared with the EU, China started late in this area, is there any valuable experience for China to learn from?
Mr. Pandolfi: On one hand, the filing of IP rights has grown in China at double digit rates year after year. At the same time we can observe that Chinese companies use their acquired IP rights as business tools and company assets. On the other hand, the policy side consistently offers backing to increasing the quality of the IP rights, to assure better legal certainty at all stages and to promote China-owned technologies and brands. Under these conditions, the development of China’s IP rights can be expected to continue its established progress.
IPR protection pursues a balance of interests between right holders and users of the system. As such, an IPR protection system adapts over time to best suit the economic situation. Having said that, similarities exist between the Chinese and the European IP framework, thanks to the long tradition of cooperation.
IP protection depends very much on international trade. It has become so important because international trade is also increasing. Companies doing business in different countries face similar situations for IP protection everywhere in the world. The cooperation between China and Europe is to harmonize and to reduce the differences. China is more open. Companies are more likely to take a look.
China IP: Many enterprises in China, including European enterprises, find IP protection a troublesome problem. What do you think?
Mr. Pandolfi: The Chinese business use IP as an asset and use it very efficiently. IP is a very strong part of a company’s assets. It happens that sometimes European companies coming to China are not prepared to use IP rights in a tactical way. Every company going outside their home country has to get prepared for the local IP system. And I have to say some companies don’t get prepared to use local IP rights. There are cases where intellectual property is used for extremes. If you look at the figures  issued in official reports, you will see that there are more patent litigation cases in Chinese courts than in United States. Different countries have different practices of IPR enforcement, but we see already that Chinese companies make use of intellectual property rights in an extremely competitive way.
China IP: Intellectual property became one of the tree major topics in U.S.-China strategic and economic dialogue 2010. Days ago, America put China on the “International Piracy Watch List.” What do you think of such international IP issues?
Mr. Pandolfi:  On one hand, it’s true that foreign companies feel they won’t receive equal treatment when they come to China. For IP, they also think they won’t be treated in a fair way. What I think is that China started its IP protection system just 25 or 30 years ago. The system has been making strides in a stable and fast way. There are different levels on IP protection in a country as large as China, but the practice or IP protection can not be changed at once in the entire country.
On the other hand, if IP is perceived from an international angle, it is no longer a simple legal issue; political and economical backgrounds are always taken into consideration. Chinese intellectual property policy is issued by the central government and carried out by local organizations and institutions. Differences exist in the enforcement level. China’s national IP strategy, which has been in implemented for the past three years - and will extend to 2020 - will create a more comprehensive and fairer IP enforcement environment. I am confident that the difficulties faced by companies today will fade away in the future.

Member Message

  • Only our members can leave a message,so please register or login.

International IP Firms
Inquiry and Assessment

Latest comments

Article Search


People watch

Online Survey

In your opinion, which is the most important factor that influences IP pledge loan evaluation?

Control over several core technologies for one product by different right owners
Stability of ownership of the pledge
Ownership and effectiveness of the pledge