State Capacity and the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Laws in China
080 South University
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1106
China has some of the highest levels of copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting in the world. What does this mean for our assessment of state capacity in China? Is the state unable to enforce its own laws? This paper approaches state capacity by focusing on intellectual property rights, which encompass copyrights, trademarks, and patents. The paper shows that, on a per capita basis, China already provides the highest volume of trademark and copyright enforcement in the world. Unfortunately, this enforcement is of a low quality, and only serves to perpetuate piracy and counterfeiting. In contrast, patent enforcement is low in volume, but has a high quality. This paper develops a theory of state capacity that identifies the conditions that allow the Chinese state to be simultaneously weak and strong vis-à-vis the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). It argues that some pockets of the IPR enforcement apparatus are capable of delivering high-quality specialized enforcement of IPR laws and regulations, whereas others provide duplicative and ultimately ineffective enforcement. The paper is based on extensive interviews in China, as well as on a range of printed sources in Chinese.
Martin Dimitrov is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tulane University. He is the author of Piracy and the State: The Politics of Intellectual Property Rights in China (Cambridge University Press, 2009; paperback 2012) and of Why Communism Did Not Collapse: Understanding Communist Resilience in Asia and Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2013). He is currently working on a monograph entitled Dictatorship and Information: Autocratic Regime Resilience in Communist Europe and China. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University in 2004, and was previously an Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College. He has been awarded residential fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin; the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; the Hoover Institution (declined); the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Notre Dame; the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford; the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard; and the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard. Dimitrov is also a member of the National Committee on United States - China Relations.