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China Renews Vow to Protect Intellectual Property Rights

China is taking the issue of intellectual property rights "seriously" and is pledging with the U.S. to fight cybercrime, said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during his trip to Beijing

Holder is visiting China this week as part of the two nations' efforts to deepen their cooperation on law enforcement and counter-terrorism. Fighting intellectual property rights violations was a key issue Holder brought up in his talks with senior Chinese officials on his visit.

"The response we received during our interactions, I think was a positive one," Holder said on Thursday during a briefing with the press.

In China, both piracy and the production of counterfeit goods continue to thrive despite China's attempts at enforcement. Domestically, pirated DVDs, music and software can be found sold on street corners and offered online through illegal downloads. At the same time, fake goods manufactured in China are also entering markets abroad like in Europe and the U.S., as well as being sold on the Internet.

Holder said he was "heartened" by China's latest actions to stop intellectual property rights violations in the country. China announced this week it would launch a six month long national campaign to crackdown on such abuses. It will target the production and distribution of pirated goods like DVDs and software products and aims to weed out trademark and patent violations.

"From my perspective I think that is a positive step, one that I think perhaps should last longer than the six month period," Holder said. But he called it a testing period to see if the campaign's efforts will have a "measurable impact". "If they do, my hope would be that they would be continued beyond that period," he added.

Over the years China has undertaken many efforts at intellectual property protection, but the government could do more, said Roland Chan, a senior director of marketing for the Business Software Alliance. In 2009, 79 percent of the software used on PCs in China was pirated, according to BSA. But that represents a 13 point decrease from 2003, Chan noted.

"The sense of protecting IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) is still lacking among businesses and the public," he said. "The cost of infringements is light and there is hardly any deterrence. Since the PC market of China is growing fast, more effort should be made to contain software piracy."

Holder said he wants to produce more concrete actions with China to tackle intellectual property violations. The two countries will do this by maintaining an ongoing dialogue through future meetings, which will include Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington next January to meet with President Obama.

Holder also spoke with Chinese officials about the issue of cybercrime and hacking. China has been cited as the origin of major cyberattacks in the past, including the one on Google last December that resulted in intellectual property being stolen. The country also produces a majority of the world's malware, security analysts have said.

Holder said, given the nature of cybercrime and how it can easily cross national borders to target victims, both China and U.S. realize the need to cooperate.

"It is our mutual interest for us to work together to attack this problem," Holder said.

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