Chinese firms are not all serial intellectual-property thieves

WARS SOMETIMES have moments of cultural levity—even trade wars. Last summer, as America and China were bombarding each other with tariffs, a quaint exhibition opened at the National Museum of China on Tiananmen Square paying tribute to, of all things, American intellectual-property (IP) protection.

It was a surprise hit. More than 1m visitors filed past 60 beautifully crafted models of inventions, such as an ice-cream maker, submitted to the United States Patent Office between 1836 and 1890 (all property of the Hagley Museum in Delaware). No doubt some visitors were arm-twisted to go, because it coincided with the start of an innovation drive by President Xi Jinping. But many were simply in thrall to American inventiveness. One remarkable visitor, says David Cole, the Hagley Museum’s boss, was an elderly man, Hu Guohua, who was granted the first-ever patent in Communist China, in 1985. It was a reminder of how young IP protection...



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