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The US Spent Years Telling China To Take Patents Seriously; Now It's Freaking Out That China Is Doing So

from the come-on-guys dept

By now, I'm sure, you've heard the story over and over again about how China "doesn't respect" things like patents, and how the US has had, time and time again, needed to use diplomatic pressure to try to get China to stop trying to copy American inventions, and to start "respecting" patents. Yet, for many years, we've been pointing out how brain dead this logic has been. All the way back in 2009, we warned that China was using this bizarre American obsession with patent monopolies against us. And that has continued over the years. Suddenly, China started flooding foreign patent offices with millions of Chinese patents. Indeed, the country started to "respect" patents so much, that it basically turned into a giant patent troll, shaking down foreign companies for money -- and more importantly, using those patents to block competition (remember, patents are a monopoly right).

In the last few years, this has ramped up, and, just as we warned, China began using that monopoly right as a tool to punish and block foreign competitors, clearing the market for Chinese firms -- all because the US and its patent maximalists demanded that China "respect" such monopoly rights.

Given that history, it's now absolutely hilarious to see the collective freak out going on among patent system supporters about the fact that a Chinese national, Wang Bingying, is in line to become the next head of WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization. Now we've had our problems with WIPO over the years. It's a UN body that is completely one-sided towards patent and copyright maximalism -- spreading the message of more monopolies around the world. Wang is currently the deputy director, and the obvious next in line after WIPO's current controversial leader Francis Gurry -- who was accused of many questionable activities, from ignoring sanctions to giving computers to North Korea and Iran, ostensibly to set up domestic patent systems, but which many argue were used in nuclear programs -- from surreptitiously collecting DNA of WIPO employees to try to spot a leaker, to (incredibly) threatening a blogger with criminal charges for reporting on some of Gurry's misconduct.

Gurry's position runs out this year and a bunch of candidates are jockeying to replace him. Given Wang's current role, he's an obvious next choice, but to hear American patent maximalists talk about it, they act as if WIPO under Wang is basically shutting off the entire patent system. Current US Patent Office director Andrei Iancu warned that Wang leading WIPO would be totally unacceptable. Patent maximalist, Tom Giovanetti, warned that letting Wang take over would be "surrendering the global IP system to China." Former National Security Advisor John Bolton even tweeted that letting Wang take the top job at WIPO means that "the ability to protect intellectual property is gravely threatened."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also warning people that letting Wang take over "would be absurd."

To be clear: almost all of this is absurd. Wang has worked at WIPO since 1992, including for years in his current position as deputy director. No one has presented any evidence of malfeasance by Wang, or anything beyond racist fear mongering that because of his nationality, he'll somehow destroy all intellectual property around the world.

But, more to the point: after decades of US officials and patent system lovers whining that China doesn't respect patents, now that it's finally "respecting" the patent system, their first reaction is to say that someone of Chinese nationality can't run a UN organization that focuses on global patent policy? It's almost like we never actually wanted China to "respect intellectual property." People just wanted China to bow down to American inventions.

Filed Under: china, francis gurry, patents, wang bingying, wipo

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2020 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Re:

    The point is that in such cases, the system is already broken, which is not invalidated by those examples.

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