Patent Law in Early Communist China
Contrary to the theoretical framework that communists have on protecting intellectual property, most governments, including China, in practice have provided at least minor amounts of patent law protection. During the early years of Communist China, certain laws provided minor economic recompense to inventors. Despite this, the ideology behind these laws were of communist origins. The first laws created in China during this time were the "Provisional Regulations on the Protection of the Invention Right and the Patent Right," passed and on August 11, 1950, and the "Provisional Regulations on Awards for Inventions, Technical Improvements, and Rationalization Proposals Relating to Production of May 6." In these laws, the inventor was given a choice between a patent where they could exclude others from using the invention or a certificate of authorship. If the inventor chose to to use a patent, he was offered the following rights (Collection of Laws and Regulations of the Peole's Republic of China):
(1) He may use his own capital or form a corporation to operate an enterprise using his invention for production;
(2) he may assign the patent to another person or license it to any organization or individual;
(3) without the patentee's permission, another person may not use his invention;
(4) he may bequeath the patent right, and his heirs will enjoy the same rights as he;
(5) during the term of the patent, the patentee (or his heirs), if he has neither assigned nor licensed the patent, may request the central principal organ [the Central Bureau of Technological Management of the Finance and Economic Committee of the Government Administration Council] to convert the patent right into an invention right.
However, the state retained the power to take control of a patent at any time, thus ensuring that anything created could be forced to be transferred to public ownership. The certificate of authorship essentially gave "ownership" to the state. It provided certain benefits and monetary compensation for the inventors to incentivize this option. The government would then provide awards to those who had especially significant contributions. Tao-Tai Hsia and Kathryn A. Haun stated that rewards were up to about 250,000 yuan, or about $104,000 US dollars (At the time). These patents and certificates of authorship would last from three to fifteen years, depending on what the government decided. While this provided certain incentive to invent, control over the intellectual property was still primary held by the Communist party through the certificates and the power to take control of patents. They justified the protection because the government would use the property to make the life of everyone in society better as a whole.
Further reforms were instituted in the "Regulation on Awards and Inventions" which was issued November 3, 1963. It instituted a key statement, that "All inventions are the property of the state, and no person or unit may claim monopoly over them. All units throughout the country (including collectively owned units) may make the use of inventions essential to them."(Collection of Laws and Regulations of the Peole's Republic of China) This was to further justify patent law in the idea that all property was collectively owned by the government. Analysis of these reforms by Tao-Tai Hsia and Kathryn A. Haun leads that, "The Communist Chinese apparently found the idea of the patent ideologically unpalatable, even if its practical importance had been vitiated by the structure of the economy and the official attitude towards patents." In this reform, patents were eliminated entirely, and there were changed rewards for certificates of authorship. There became five levels of certificates, with each one justifying a certain amount of monetary compensation. The highest level rewarded 10,000 yuan and the fifth level only rewarded 500 yuan. These reforms represent the most traditional Communist views that were enacted in China during the time of their intense communist reform.