Monday, February 11, 2008

Xinhua IP Kookiness

Xinhua released a couple of weird IP articles on February 11. There must be a deficit of reporters in the office this week...

In Pirated software still a poser (presumably using the "question or problem that is puzzling or confusing" definition of poser and not this), the Shanghai Daily seems to be playing a joke on Xinhua with their witty story title. The title implies that pirated software is still a big problem, while the story lauds the 53% increase in companies using software under valid copyrights from 1,500 companies in December 2007 to 2,300 companies by February 7. 53% is a big number and so is two-thousand three-hundred, but the China Business Directory alone lists 173,765 Chinese firms, which would mean that there are still at least 170,000 Chinese companies still using infringing software. The story doesn't carry the same title at Xinhua, and the Shanghai Daily editors must be applauded for this article title.

In China authorizes 30% more patents in 2007, Xinhua comes to the obvious conclusion that the increase in authorized patents means that "China's innovation capability has been upgraded." Perhaps on paper, yes, innovation capability appears to have increased, but is an increase in patents necessarily a measure of innovation? Part of the solution to this question surely lies in how many of those patents were for perpetual motion machines? Other questions one should ask to answer this question are how many of these patents were issued to foreign-invested enterprises? and how many of those patents can be attributed to an increase in patent filings due to an increase in trust in the legal protections afforded by China's patent laws rather than a bona fide increase in innovation? There are concerns about China's innovation, and these concerns are not going to be genuinely solved by juking the stats.


Howard Lee said...


I am always amazed by your ability to tolerate Xinhua's english news, or actually any of their news. After reading it several times due to the horror of flying in China domestically, I was bored to tears. But all salute you for parsing through their articles.

By the way, more accusations of Chinese nationals stealing tech secrets from American defense firms. Heh, this one seemed large enough to have its own news conference at the Department of Justice.

Will Lewis said...


These stories were pretty ridiculous. The Shanghai Daily dealt with the copyright story wryly. Xinhua is pretty sanitized, but Shanghai Daily seems to "get it right" pretty often... Check out their opinion pages.