• Sat. Jun 10th, 2023

Senators warn China’s theft of innovation jeopardizes America’s status as premier economic power


Apr 19, 2023


China’s theft of research and innovation is threatening America’s economic advantage and putting the communist regime closer to competing with the U.S., according to Sens. Chris Coons and Thom Tillis.

The bipartisan duo said Tuesday that people should be alarmed by China’s efforts to surpass America through legal means rather than exclusively worry about illegal theft of tech and research.

Mr. Coons, Delaware Democrat, said China has used legal means to include overwhelming the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as part of its playbook to unseat the U.S. as the world’s economic leader.

“China has manipulated standard-setting boards and flooded the USPTO with trademark and patent applications to slow down all of its work,” Mr. Coons said at an intellectual property subcommittee meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Coons, the Democratic chairman of the IP panel, said other countries like India also pose a threat to American innovation.

Mr. Tillis, North Carolina Republican, said some of America’s allies in the pharmaceuticals and biotech realms are also undermining U.S. intellectual property, but China remains the major threat.

The panel’s Republican leader said much of China’s success is built upon American creativity.

“Beyond theft, the significant concern for all of us here today should be the CCP overtaking the United States in domestic innovation rather than a current reliance on theft, using past theft to become a competitor head to head,” Mr. Tillis said at the meeting. “We’ve got to do better.”

American businesses and entrepreneurs feel under duress from foreign threats, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Patrick Kilbride told senators that his team has seen the U.S.-based innovation ecosystem facing numerous threats. 

“It takes the form of online piracy, counterfeiting, trade secret theft, erosion of legal rights, forced technology transfer, political stigmatization of IP and outright waiver of global IP commitments, creating an environment where American innovation and creativity is vulnerable,” Mr. Kilbride said. “These threats come from every corner of the globe, certainly China.”

Mr. Kilbride’s complaint was not limited to China’s forced tech transfer, however, and he said European data rules could force American companies to share trade secrets with governments and possibly competitors.

The Chamber of Commerce provided testimony to the IP panel alongside others who are knowledgeable about the threat of foreign intellectual property theft, as lawmakers look to develop solutions to guard against threats to U.S. research and tech.

Mr. Coons has proposed multiple bills in the last two sessions of Congress with the goal of making intellectual property law more predictable, effective, and reliable, according to his staff.

He worked with Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, in 2019 on a bill intended to make it easier for patent holders to enforce their patents against infringers. In 2021, Mr. Coons worked with Mr. Tillis on a bill to stop the sale of counterfeit goods online.

The senators are back at the drawing board this year as they work to halt ongoing foreign threats to U.S. research and innovation. 


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