Microsoft: China still needs to work on IP rights


TOKYO -- The top legal counsel for Microsoft Corp. praised advances made in China on intellectual property rights and copyright issues, but warned in a press conference here that much work remains to be done.

"Last year was the most important and encouraging in terms of software IP, and we saw some significant steps," Microsoft senior vp Brad Smith said Thursday while speaking to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.

He emphasized the positive impact of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Seattle last year and Beijing's commitment to better protection for software rights. The U.S. this week announced plans to challenge China through the World Trade Organization over its record on intellectual piracy.

"We are seeing new PCs with legitimate software being installed, which is very encouraging, while government ministries are also buying legitimate software," he said.

"But no-one is saying that the work is done in China," he cautioned. "We need to continue to focus our efforts on this area."

He also pointed out that China needs to take international legislation on copyright seriously as its own industry starts producing high-quality products that need protection.

"China ... (has) talented and creative software engineers and if they look at this from a long-term perspective then they will realize it is in their own country's interest to have IP protection in order to optimize the creativeness of their own people," he said.

Smith also defended Microsoft's handling of the information provided about its Vista operating system and its compatibility with existing PCs in advance of its launch in January.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against the company last week claiming it unfairly identified some PCs as Windows Vista capable when they could only run the most basic version of the system and not the more advanced systems that contain the most popular features.

"I actually don't think there have been a lot of problems that consumers have encountered, although I think there are a few lawyers and law firms that have pursued an action that are presenting such a picture," Smith said. "I actually feel good about the information that we provided."