The China Intellectual Property Right Dilemma



By John Richardson

INTELLECTUAL property right protection has long been a nightmare in China thanks to the ability of government research institutions to rapidly and very effectively copy technologies. Blueprints for these technologies have to be handed over to local authorities by foreign joint-venture partners.

The constant challenge is balancing this risk against the enormous opportunities.

And now a former Dow Chemical scientist, Lui Wen, has been found guilty of conspiring to steal company secrets and sell them to firms in China by a jury in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the US.

Lui, who worked for the company from 1965 until he retired in 1992, also paid another company employee a $50,000 bribe to gain information about how the company made a polymer used in automotive hoses, jackets for electrical cables and vinyl siding. He worked with the polymer, Tyrin CPE.

A DuPont scientist is also reported to have been found guilty of stealing company secrets in order to pass them on to China.

This problem could get worse as China attempts to produce not only ever-greater volumes of commodity petrochemicals, but also the smarter stuff.

At least in the West, though, legal systems are usually pretty effective at enforcing intellectual property rights – as the Louisiana case illustrates.

What hope that China, too, might one day develop a similarly effective legal system?

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