China is seeking to place Wang Binying as Dir General of the World Intellectual Property Organization

Beijing hopes place the next Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the leading association for establishing global standards for the protection IP. 

It is no secret that China has been among the most aggressive nations for stealing intellectual property, especially from U.S. companies, a major issue in President Trump’s trade war with Beijing. Estimates of China’s theft range from $225 billion to as much as $600 billion according to the the United States Trade Representative and the IP Commission, a Washington think tank. (The full IP Commission report is here.)

Whether China has changed its attitude about enforcing the IP rights of others, especially the United State, is doubtful at this point in time.

Customs officers destroy more than 2.3 million counterfeit products seized in the past three months in Guangzhou, China, on Oct. 29. Ji Dong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

“Protecting the applicants’ trade secrets was a core part of what we [at WIPO] we’re doing,” said James Pooley, a former deputy director-general at WIPO who managed the agency’s international patent system told the publication Foreign Policy. “The Trump administration’s view of China is that it is a thief. Why would you want to put the fox in charge of the henhouse?”

Brands and Designs Deputy

China has nominated Wang Binying, currently WIPO’s deputy director-general of Brands and Designs. She has a postgraduate law degree from UC Berkeley and a diploma from NYU law, and worked extensively in both the Chinese government and WIPO.

China today produces a great deal of its own IP and files enormous numbers of trademarks (about 12 times that of the U.S.) and patents (China is responsible for approximately half of all global patent filings), often of dubious quality. Until relatively recently, Beijing had shown little interest in a leadership role at WIPO, a specialized agency under the United Nations. It has been said to be quietly deepening its relationship with WIPO, which sets the rules for international patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

More than a decade after Beijing launched its drive to increase home grown innovation, China has become a major innovator in its own right and is taking a stronger apparent interest in protecting its intellectual property.

“The election effort comes as China is emerging as a leading force in artificial intelligence and next-generation 5G mobile phone technology,” stated FP, “and as the world’s most prolific filer of patents, accounting for nearly half of the more than 3.3 million global patents in 2018, according to WIPO figures in October.”

Four Current UN Agency Heads

Chinese nominees currently run four of the UN’s fifteen specialized agencies, including “the International Telecommunication Union, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization.”

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