China urges patience from West as it fights piracy

BEIJING (Reuters) - China urged patience from the developed world on Tuesday as it seeks to stop infringements of patents, copyrights and other intellectual property.

State Councilor Chen Zhili told a forum on intellectual property China was committed to strengthening intellectual property protections, but also urged wealthy countries to share more technology and show more understanding.

“When many key technologies are in the hands of developed countries, the development of developing countries faces unprecedented pressures,” she said.

China took over 570,000 patent applications from domestic and foreign sources in 2006, an increase of one fifth on the previous year, as the government pushes a campaign to foster homegrown innovation, Chen said.

Washington blames China’s many counterfeiters of films, music, software, medicines and machines for billions of dollars in foregone sales and has urged Beijing to toughen up anti-piracy prosecutions.

U.S. trade officials have threatened to lodge a complaint about the piracy before the World Trade Organization (WTO).

A coalition of U.S. movie, software, music and book industry groups recently estimated its companies had lost $2.2 billion in potential business in China in 2006 due to piracy.

Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an umbrella organization of business interests, said flagging a WTO complaint could help press China to focus on the issue.

Donohue said the sheer scale of China’s economic growth made grappling with piracy there a challenge.

“The problem gets somewhat worse only because of the massive expansion of the economy,” he told a news conference in Beijing on Monday.