CHINA RESISTS PRESSURE ON COPYRIGHT PROTECTION

CHINA RESISTS PRESSURE ON COPYRIGHT PROTECTION

China has no plans to give copyright protection to computer software, chemicals or pharmaceuticals despite pressure from abroad, the deputy head of the country's patent office says.

To do so would not be in the best interest of China, Ge Bo told participants in a conference on intellectual property rights sponsored by a United Nations agency.Mr. Ge said most developing countries do not have laws governing intellectual property rights, and said the industrialized nations that have adopted them did so only fairly recently.

China introduced patent and trademark laws in 1985, but has no copyright legislation.

Almost 60,000 patent applications have been received since then and 10,000 approved, Mr. Ge said. The majority of applications came from outside China, he said, indicating its current law is acceptable to foreign companies.

The Chinese government is firm and earnest in implementing the patent law and in protecting the lawful rights and interests of the patentee, he said.

Mr. Ge dismissed suggestions that patent protection be extended to 20 years from 15. In fact, most patentees stop paying the annual fees needed to maintain protection after about eight years because new developments have superseded their original work, he said.

In his opening address, Hamish Macleod, Hong Kong's secretary for trade and industry, said patent and copyright laws are lagging technological changes in Asia and elsewhere.

While Hong Kong has a generally good record in the field, Mr. Macleod conceded it - along with others - has been slow to adjust.

Claus Suhr of the West German patent department said Asian protection is progressing, but that it will be a long time before a comprehensive system evolves. He took an upbeat view on China, however.

It has a long way to go, but I believe it will become a very important player in the development of intellectual property protection in Asia, Mr.

Suhr said.

Proposals for a Chinese copyright law - first introduced for discussion in 1986 - call for protection of literary, artistic and scientific works for the authors' lifetime plus 50 years.

Officials are on record as saying a copyright law won't be ready until at least 1990 and that it will be crafted so as not to hinder the cultural development of the country.