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High-speed rail hopes to lay tracks overseas

By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)

07:56, January 18, 2013

China's high-speed railway technologies are looking for increased export markets as Chinese companies acquire independent intellectual property.

Earlier last year, California's lower house approved financing for a new railway line that will link the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles at an estimated cost of $68 billion. China's Ministry of Railways had announced that Chinese companies would form a group to enter the bidding.

"One of the favorite bids for the project has come from a Chinese consortium, and it is China which has built more high-tech, high-speed railway links than anyone else in the last year," BBC News reported in 2011 about China's bids.

Professor Richard White from Stanford University, was quoted in the same report as saying that "the way they are talking about building it now will be American labor laying the tracks, but heavy investments in Chinese technology and even trying to get inputs of Chinese capital.

"It's as if the Pacific has suddenly switched over in 150 years."

Also, earlier reports disclosed progress on China's high-speed railway technical cooperation with other countries, including Russia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

The 'going-out' strategy of China's high-speed railway technologies is supported by growing efforts to protect intellectual property rights.

"As far as I am concerned, there is not a single legal intellectual property rights dispute over China's high-speed railway technologies," said Tian Lipu, commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office.

"Although we did buy technologies from Germany, France, Canada and Japan, our Chinese scientists 'digested' the technologies we bought legally, and developed our own technology," Tian said.

Currently the State Intellectual Property Office has granted more than 900 patents related to high-speed railway.

"China's high-speed railway technology should not be subjected to groundless accusations from abroad," he said.

Tian said the State Intellectual Property Office has coordinated related departments to provide legal services for China's companies to protect their intellectual rights outside China. For example, the office opened a helpline, 12330, to provide legal advice to companies.

"Chinese companies should accumulate more experience in protecting their own intellectual property rights and in dealing with overseas lawsuits, and we encourage the companies to apply for patents outside China," Tian said.

According to the latest statistics released by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the total number of patents approved in China increased 34.6 percent in 2011 from the previous year.

However, Huang Xiantao, an expert on intellectual property rights at the China International Association for Urban and Rural Development, said China's high-speed railway patents are far from enough.

"The companies should apply for overseas patents for all the high-speed railway technologies we developed, so that China will have an advantage in world competition," Huang said.

Currently, companies tend to apply for more patents inside China rather than in the US, Europe and Japan.

"On the other hand, when you develop a new technology, you can apply for numerous patents on the basis of the technology. But most of China's companies do not recognize this, so they just apply for patents for the technology itself, but neglect other patents based on the technology," he said.

As for groundless accusations from overseas, Huang said China's railway authority should use media to refute false accusations, and seek legal help to crack those cases that stain the image of China's high-speed railway.

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