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This Article traces the development of intellectual property rights in China since the country’s reopening in the late 1970s. Part I provides a brief history of the Chinese intellectual property system and examines the various intellectual property disputes between China and the United States in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. This Part argues that the contemporary Chinese intellectual property system was not developed until intellectual property rights reemerged in China in the late 1970s. Part II discusses the causes of the piracy and counterfeiting problem in China. By focusing on the significant political, social, economic, cultural, and ideological differences between China and the West, this Part agues that China’s problem can be attributed to the Confucian beliefs ingrained in the Chinese culture, the country’s socialist economic system, the leader’s skepticism toward Western institutions, the xenophobic and nationalist sentiments of the populace, the government’s censorship and information control policy, and the significantly different Chinese legal culture and judicial system. Part III examines the various improvements in intellectual property protection in China since the mid-1990s, including the recent amendments to the Chinese copyright, patent, and trademark laws. This Part explains why intellectual property protection has improved even though the U.S. government and American businesses have backed away from their earlier coercive tactics. This Part concludes by offering insight into the impact of the WTO membership on intellectual property protection in China.

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Occasional Papers in Intellectual Property


Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Yeshiva University

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