BEJING, China — The parts business has been rife with counterfeiters thanks in large part to China’s non-committal Intellectual Property Bureau (IPB).
But now a suit brought by Honda Motor Co. against the IPB could set the rules for the future. The case involves a motor scooter patent Honda won in China in 1994. Recently three knock-off manufacturers have been granted government approvals to build very similar-looking designs. Honda wants those approvals reversed and its patent reinstated.
Foreign companies say China’s on-again, off-again approach to intellectual property rights contributes to rampant product piracy in the country. China has vowed a crackdown following its acceptance into the World Trade Organization last December, but progress has been slow.
The case has attracted a great deal of attention and China, which generally bars foreign reporters from its courts, has invited them in to see the Honda case and provided bilingual brochures trumpeting the country’s efforts to fight counterfeiting.
Whether the Honda case can break new ground remains to be seen as the judge weighing the merits of the suit is also the deputy director of the agency Honda is suing.
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