China is facing a damaging shortfall in the numbers of professionals working in the field of intellectual property rights, leading academics claim.
A Forum on Intellectual Property Rights(IPR) in Higher Education heard that China's booming economy will need the skills of between 55,000 and 60,000 experts in the field by 2010.
The claim came from Professor Zheng Shengli, dean of the IPR School at Peking University, in his latest research on the IPR profession.
Professor Zheng based his claims on internationally accepted standards and the practice of multi-national corporations which reveal that the proportion of IPR professionals to researchers and developers should be between 1 percent and 4 percent.
There were 3.284 million scientific personnel nationwide in 2004, and correspondingly at least 32,800 IPR professionals were needed, he said
However, only about 3,000 IPR professionals had been turned out by universities over the past 10 or more years because universities have been slow to teach the subject, Zheng said.
"The shortage of IPR professionals will hamper the development of IPR protection, which will consequently slow down the progress in scientific and other related research areas," said Xie Xiaoyong, development director of Research and Development Center of the State Intellectual Property Office, which was the co-organizer of the forum.
"China's economic development will also be curbed as IPR has been an increasingly important factor in the global economy, if the shortfall continues," he added.
In recent years, many universities have started master's and doctor's programs in IPR, in response to the shortage of IPR professionals. Eighteen universities have established IPR education and research institutes by now.
Renmin University was the first to establish an IPR education and research institute in 1986. One year later, its major in IPR law started. This was the beginning of the teaching of intellectual property rights in China's higher education.