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China's Piracy Hotbed Image Is Western Illusion, Says Official

China's Piracy Hotbed Image Is Western Illusion, Says Official

Today in international tech news: A Chinese official says that the country's piracy problem has long been distorted by Western media. Also: China's government is reportedly close to approving sales of the iPhone 5, Apple and HTC end one of the first smartphone patent standoffs, and we learn how much Apple paid -- a lot, it turns out -- for a clock design it lifted from a Swiss rail company.

By David Vranicar TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
11/12/12 9:04 AM PT

Western media's reporting distorts China's image, making it appear less willing to fight copyright piracy than it actually is, China's top intellectual property official said Sunday during the country's Communist Party Congress, according to Reuters.

China has for years been regarded as a hotbed for intellectual property theft. In April, for instance, the U.S. put China atop its annual list of piracy offenders; in September, Microsoft publicized its pleas to get Chinese state-run companies to quit using pirated software. Naturally, such stories were reported far and wide by Western media.

While conceding there is a market for pirated goods, Tian Lipu, who heads China's State Intellectual Property Office, believes that the problem has been distorted.

China is the world's biggest payer for patents and trademark rights, and one of the biggest markets for legitimate software, Tian said. If Apple and other Western companies were so worried about Chinese piracy, they wouldn't be setting up production bases there.

China, for its part, has long claimed that it would root out piracy: In 2012, sure, but also in 2011, in 2010 and in 2009.

iPhone 5's China Launch Nearing

The iPhone 5, released in the U.S. in September, will hit Chinese markets in late November or early December, according to The Wall Street Journal.

According to The Journal, China Telecom and rival China Unicom have been waiting for government approval to sell the new phone, which is already on sale in Europe and other parts of Asia. China Telecom, which is state-owned, is reportedly nearing approval. China Unicom's chairman hopes the company can offer the new iPhone this year but isn't certain.

China Telecom is the nation's third-largest mobile operator by subscribers; China Unicom is No. 2.

In Apple's most recent fiscal quarter, its sales in China totaled US$5.7 billion, more than 15 percent of the company's total revenue.

Apple, HTC End Patent Standoff

Apple and HTC announced a global settlement that ends what Reuters calls "one of the first major conflagrations" of the now never-ending smartphone litigation marathon.

The settlement, which includes a 10-year licensing agreement, stems from Apple's 2010 lawsuit claiming that HTC was infringing on its patented technology. That was the first -- but, as we've seen, certainly not the last -- in a series of Apple suits against smartphone competitors.

Specifics of the deal were not disclosed. Both companies' chief executives issued statements about how they would now focus on innovation.

Last month HTC forecast a 14.5 percent plunge in third- to fourth-quarter revenue, the company's second straight quarterly decline.

Apple Coughs Up for Clock

Apple paid more than $20 million for the right to use a clock design licensed by Switzerland's Federal Railways service, according to Mashable, which cites this translated article.

This is the third, and presumably final, round of news regarding Apple's Swiss clock. In September, news broke that the Swiss rail company was seeking compensation for Apple's use of the design on iOS 6. In October, the two sides reportedly reached a deal -- but the terms were undisclosed.

Now, the terms have been disclosed. And that's one expensive clock.


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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