When in March US President Trump announced a new, stiffer tariff on imports from China, the Chinese trade community was enraged. The tariff will be imposed on Chinese imports worth $50 billion and is the latest defense move by the US to protect American intellectual property. Professor Kamil Idris, former Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), opines that this is by far the best initiative yet from the US in curbing intellectual property violations, albeit coming a hundred years late.
The US Trade Representative’s report for 2017 indicates that the US lost between $225 million and $600 billion following intellectual property theft by China. Prof. Kamil said the $50 billion tariff represents a loss of US corporate revenue as a result of these intellectual property violations.
China has not only been counterfeiting and pirating American technology; it turns out that American companies are often forced to transfer technology to Chinese companies to access the Chinese market. China additionally sets tough conditions for US and other foreign companies that want to operate in the nation. Most of these companies usually end up giving in to demands for intellectual property control just to have a share of the massive market. Lately, there has also been an increase in China-instigated cyber-attacks and cyber theft in the US, whose intention is gaining access to trade secrets. In passing the tariff, Trump invoked Section 301, which additionally gives him the power to impose trade sanctions.
Prof. Kamil Idris, a celebrated law expert, has over the years served in multiple international bodies that deal with peacekeeping and international cooperation. He was head of WIPO between 1997 and 2008 and was instrumental in pushing the global recognition and celebration of the World Intellectual Property Day, a day that celebrates human creativity as the fuel that drives economic, social, and cultural development. Currently, Prof. Kamil is a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, an intergovernmental body that facilitates international dispute resolution.