China IP

When Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was picked up by Canadian police on allegations of breaching US sanctions against Iran she was carrying an iPhone, a MacBook Air, and an iPad Pro, this according to Bloomberg News. 

Embarrassing for Huawei? Hell yes. Surprising to anyone else? Hell no. Important to those who do business in China? Well yeah….

Many years ago I spoke at a webinar where one of my fellow speakers mentioned having just returned from China (I later learned for the first time) and noting that “China was already making SUVs as good as anything made here in the United States.” I remember immediately thinking the following:

  1. Wrong.
  2. Not for another twenty years, if ever.
  3. This is a country that cannot make good transmissions and cannot make a good ballpoint pen. China did subsequently make a ball point pen all by itself, but that was not until 2017. See Finally, China manufactures a ballpoint pen all by itself.

As much as people keep saying China is “catching up” or as already caught up or will pass countries like the United States or Germany or Japan or Korea in product quality, it really has not done so and it may never do so. Yes, China makes some great products at great prices — see China Product Outsourcing: Be Like Anker, where I wrote an ode to Anker products. But, does China make the absolute best in breed of any product, regardless of price? I honestly cannot name one, but I also know that does not mean there are no such China product leaders. Are there? If you know of some, please mention them in a comment below.

All this matters because it goes a long way towards explaining why China is reticent about opening its market fully to foreign competition and because it helps explain why China — which desperately wants to lead on the world stage — is so willing to engage in IP theft to achieve that. See One in Five U.S. Companies Say China Has Stolen Their Intellectual Property.

What are you seeing out there?

UPDATE: I forgot to mention e-cigarettes, which was pioneered in China and, near as I can tell has been wholly dominated by China ever since. As you can see by the two comments so far, China is also viewed as a leader in drones.

Dan Harris

I am a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

I mostly represent companies doing business in emerging market countries. It has taken me many years to build my network and it takes constant communication and travel to maintain it. My work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

I was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, I am AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), I am rated 10.0 by (its highest rating), and I am a SuperLawyer.

I am a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and I constantly travel between the United States and Asia. I most commonly speak on China law issues and I am the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog ( Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed me regarding various aspects of my international law practice.

I am licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at my firm, I focus on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.