U.S. urges China to take serious steps to end theft of trade secrets

The United States on Wednesday called on China to "take serious steps" to end the theft of trade secrets in the country and abroad, saying such an activity is "an escalating concern."

In an annual report reviewing global intellectual property rights protection, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said, "Not only are repeated thefts occurring inside China, but also outside of China for the benefit of Chinese entities."

The report called attention to public reports by independent security firms that "actors affiliated with the Chinese military and the Chinese government have systematically infiltrated the computer systems of a significant number of U.S. companies and stolen hundreds of terabytes of data, including IP, from these companies."

"The United States strongly urges the Chinese government take serious steps to put an end to these activities and to deter further activity by rigorously investigating and prosecuting thefts of trade secrets by both cyber and conventional means," the report said.

It also said a wide range of U.S. stakeholders in China report "serious obstacles to effective protection of intellectual property rights in all forms, including patents, copyrights, trademarks and protection of pharmaceutical test data."

On a positive development, the report said, "China is currently engaged in sustained legal reform efforts, which have resulted in the revision of laws, rules, guidelines and judicial interpretations across the range of IPR disciplines."

"The United States is hopeful that a legal reform effort on this scale signals China's commitment to achieving major improvements," it added.

The annual report, compiled under the Special 301 provision of the 1974 Trade Act, designated Ukraine as a "priority foreign country" on the country's problematic treatment of U.S. intellectual property rights.

In the report, 10 countries, including China, India and Russia, are placed on the priority watch list of countries which present the most significant concerns regarding insufficient level of IPR protection or enforcement or market access for those relying on intellectual property protection.