Thursday, February 24, 2005

CHINESE COMPANIES WADE INTO THE WORLD OF 專利訴訟 (PATENT LAWSUITS): China's new electronics companies, lured by riches in foreign markets, are feeling the bite of well-honed patent protection systems that have become effective weapons of business war for their competitors.

Such lawsuits filed in the United States would have been considered little more than a nuisance by Chinese firms just two years ago, carrying little or no clout in China.

Multinationals are reluctant to file patent lawsuits in China, where intellectual property (IP) laws are new and the courts lack experience handling such cases.

But with China's exports of machinery and high-tech goods reaching $490 billion last year, up 45 percent from 2003, the threat of being shut out of lucrative western markets has become a potent deterrent against IP theft by Chinese companies, experts say.

Attorneys said the number of IP lawsuits in the United States is relatively small, in the dozens each year.

But they added the number has been growing as companies try to nip new competition from China in the bud and avoid losing market share the way they did to aggressive competitors from Japan and later South Korea starting in the 1970s.

Also, a growing number of Chinese firms are also finding they can use the system to their advantage in a range of disputes with their overseas business partners.

Two Chinese companies sued a consortium of DVD patent holders, including Philips, Sony, Pioneer and LG Electronics, alleging cartel-like behavior.

China's top TV maker, Sichuan Changhong Electric Appliances, sued U.S. distributor Apex Digital in California in December to recover an alleged $484 million in unpaid bills.

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