Scott D. Thornbury is a second-year graduate student in the China Studies MA program at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. Before graduate school, Scott was an infantry officer in the US Army with service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus far, his research interests include intellectual property law and property rights with respect to agricultural land in China.
“Intellectual Property Protection: China’s Role in Determining its Intellectual Property Regime post-2001”
Several works in the existing literature on intellectual property rights protection emphasize China’s response to foreign pressure. This paper re-visits China’s changing intellectual property rights regime from a different perspective further removed in time from China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. As background, the paper briefly investigates China’s history of intellectual property rights, the disruption of intellectual property rights and protection during the Maoist period, and China’s upward trajectory of a strengthening intellectual property rights regime during Reform and Opening. The author identifies two major trends motivating the development of China’s intellectual property rights regime since 1978. The first trend is a general responsiveness to foreign pressure to align with international norms before acceding to the World Trade Organization in 2001, especially with respect to trademark infringement and counterfeiting. This paper then goes on to argue that the second trend, since 2001, after China acceded to the World Trade Organization, has been characterized by a strengthening intellectual property rights regime that has changed more in response to domestic initiative than foreign influence.