PhD midterm review: China: rule-maker or rule-taker in the international intellectual property system?


Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Tuesday 06 September 2016


Coombs Extension 1.04
ANU Canberra


Wenting Cheng



After the TRIPS Agreement, issues such as public health, biodiversity and human rights have become increasingly entangled with intellectual property (IP). Overlaps across these areas has caused the proliferation of international rules within and outside of the international IP system. This proliferation of rules has led to regime complexity in which international IP regimes overlap with each other without any clear hierarchy among them. While regime complexity provides opportunities for regime shifting, it is now more difficult for a single state to successfully manipulate international IP rule-making than it was for the US 30 years ago in bringing the TRIPS Agreement into existence.

China has continuously been in a weak position in bargaining over IP rules in bilateral and multilateral agreements during the late 19th century and 20th century. China is a late comer in the international IP system, and it has accepted IP provisions in unequal treaties in its modern history (1840-1949). After normalisation of the US-China relationship in late 1970s, China also accepted high protection IP standards in bilateral MOUs with the US. After entering the WTO in 2001, China amended its domestic IP legislation to comply with the TRIPS Agreement. After the promulgation of the National IP Strategy in 2008, however, China began to emphasise IP as high priority in its national agenda. Recently, IP has become an embedded block in the Chinese national strategy of “development driven by innovation”. China has also witnessed a surge in IP law and registrations in recent years. In particular, China has been first in the number of trademark registrations since 2001, as well as in patent applications since 2011. The surge in IP filings is part of China’s plan to transform itself into an “IP powerhouse”.

Against this backdrop of international regime complexity and rising IP capacity in China, this thesis explores how China engages the international IP system. Will China translate its increasing use of IP in its domestic markets into a global regulatory power over IP standards? Will China become a rule-maker which challenges US hegemony over existing international IP regimes? What are the limits for China’s further engagement in the international IP system? To answer these questions, geographical indications (GIs) will be used as one of a number of case studies to reveal China’s subtle position in multilateral regimes and its effort to advance its domestic policy objectives via bilateral arrangements.

About the speaker

Prior to joining Regnet Wenting was a researcher at Development and Research Center of State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China, a think tank directly affiliated to SIPO. At the Center, she participated in over 20 research projects and submitted policy briefs related to China’s intellectual property laws, policies and national strategies, especially focusing on patent.

Wenting holds LL.M. degree from Peking University and LL.B degree from Shanghai International Studies University. During her LL.M study, Wenting did an internship at the EU-China Project for the protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR2), where she contributed to the establishment of an online search engine China IP Law Search and preparation for background documentation for EU-China High Level Trade and Economic Dialogue (HED) in May 2009. She was also an intern at Beiten Burkhardt LL.P. (Beijing Office).

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