Every year, on April 26, governments, businesses, students, innovators, and creators come together to celebrate World IP Day and explore the centrality of intellectual property (IP) rights to our lives and economies. This year, with the theme IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future, we recognize the innovative spirit of our young people and think deeply about how IP rights can better support young innovators and creators.
Our youth and young adults bring vitality, creativity, and fresh viewpoints to bear in addressing a range of global challenges as students, scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, and public servants.
IP protection that is transparent, impartial, and effective recognizes and protects their contributions. Such protection can take the form of trademarks that promote consumer trust in young businesses, patents that drive enterprise and job creation, or copyrights that bring new perspectives to readers around the world. By strongly protecting these rights, we encourage our young people to develop and contribute their innovative ideas and improve our world.
The United States and China have a long history of people-to-people exchanges, particularly among younger people. In both the United States and China, exchange participants have often been instrumental in launching new businesses that ultimately bring greater economic prosperity to both our countries. COVID-19 has not stopped the United States from welcoming such interaction, demonstrated by the more than 100,000 student visas Mission China has issued since May 2021. The number of students from China studying in the United States has tripled over the past 10 years.
Over the last several years, China has accelerated reform of many aspects of its IP protection and enforcement regimes. Despite positive changes, U.S. rights holders continue to have concerns about the adequacy of these reforms and their effective implementation. In addition, long-standing issues like bad faith trademarks and counterfeiting persist, while worrying new developments such as broad antisuit injunctions issued by China’s courts have emerged. Finally, recent high-level policies and IP strategy plans foreshadow IP protection that is more opaque, more unpredictable, and which favors state economic or political interests. It is critical that China complete the full range of fundamental changes that are required to create an effective and level-playing field for IP rights in China.
The United States has engaged with China’s IP agencies and its judiciary to strengthen IP for decades, both bilaterally and together with our partners and allies. Such engagement has benefited rights holders and consumers in countries around the world, including young innovators and creators. This engagement must continue, and must ensure that China’s IP policies incentivize and protect innovation, and encourage – rather than discourage – our youth. In time, youth and young adults will move into roles shaping the course of our bilateral relationship. Their earlier-life successes, creativity, and innovation will no doubt be essential to managing issues of consequence for our two countries and the world at large.