High-speed rail technology requires IP protection

By Gao Xiaoyi and Sun Dawei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/20 18:48:39

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT



 

Having experienced a period of innovation, China's high-speed rail sector has fully mastered the nine core technologies and become a new impetus for the nation's sustainable economic development with complete, proprietary intellectual property.

However, if the intellectual property of these core technologies can't be effectively protected, China's high-speed rail business will be affected.

The "Going Global" effort of China's high-speed rail faces the "patent trap" from first movers in the industry and the "copy-cat advantage" from late starters.

The rapid development of China's high-speed rail technology has "moved the cheese" of some powerful enterprises, triggering frequent accusations of patent infringement and threats of litigation. They mainly allege that China's high-speed rail technology is not independent and may infringe on corporate patents held in other countries.

In reality, China's high-speed rail technology was developed through the intensive study of the nation's unique terrain. As to foreign patent rights, the holders often adhere to the principle that the core technology will by no means be transferred. Hence, China had to undertake massive experiments based on its existing conditions.

Exports of China's high-speed rail technology, against the background of the "Belt and Road" initiative, have followed a gradual trend. Those who have developed a good number of the related technologies in China didn't apply for patents in other countries and regions after attaining intellectual property rights domestically.

That omission gave some of the late starters ample opportunities to copy technologies by reference to public patent documents, which they then used to apply for patents in countries where China had yet to receive such certification, causing huge losses to China.

Producers in other countries even resorted to plagiarism by slightly revising some details of the Chinese patented technologies and making new applications under their own names. The products may have looked different, but actually the core technologies were the same, without any innovation.

The absence of appropriate patents overseas is the main reason for the ineffective protection of high-speed rail technologies. In recent years, China has made a number of significant national scientific achievements, some of which were revealed through the publication of academic papers. These were then appraised overseas and used by the world for free. For those scientific achievements, having not applied for patents was the same as having waived legal protection - and it also meant the loss of State assets.

Because there's no one-stop, global patent application service platform, the enterprises, universities and other research sites that make such discoveries often lack awareness of any patent application strategy. As a result, a large number of scientific findings have essentially been stolen. Some foreign companies have even represented the results as their own and sued parties in China for intellectual property violations. We cannot allow this to keep happening.

If researchers only apply for patents domestically, the losses won't be small. Patent rights are assigned by geography. If registration is limited to China, the technologies won't be able to enjoy protection in other countries. China lags behind developed markets like Europe, the US and Japan in terms of working out an overseas patent application strategy.

Because our high-speed rail technologies have entered world markets, all kinds of issues related to the protection of intellectual property rights have emerged. It is imperative for the relevant departments to provide timely support.

Most importantly, we should improve the awareness of legal protection of business secrets and establish a set of complicated core intellectual property rights protection mechanism and operation procedure.

Before key technologies are disseminated, a complete patent application strategy must be developed to ensure that patent applications are filed first in the target markets. In the face of technology replication, it is also necessary to carry out patent infringement litigation to halt this phenomenon.

We can also resort to the international media to generate pressure, urging those who have infringed on China's technology to cease their improper actions and make due compensation. In addition, drawing on the experience of developed countries, improving the quality of patent examinations and patent trials, as well as encouraging enterprises to protect their own intellectual property overseas, will have a conspicuous effect.

The authors are staffers with the Shanghai Railway Transport Procuratorate. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn



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