The U.S.-China Forced Technology Transfer Dispute
51 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2022 Last revised: 13 Apr 2022
Date Written: January 21, 2022
The past few years have seen not only a trade war between China and the United States involving tariffs on close to $750 billion worth of goods, but also multiple complaints filed by both countries before the WTO Dispute Settlement Body. A key driver behind these ongoing tensions and conflicts concerns the challenges confronting U.S. technology companies—both online and offline. Although the inadequate protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in China has been the subject of a perennial debate since the mid-1980s, the recent concerns have raised new issues that have been lumped together under the umbrella of "forced technology transfer."
Written for the Seton Hall Law Review Symposium on "Intellectual Property and Technology in the New Global Age," this article closely examines the U.S.-China forced technology transfer dispute. It begins by offering a critical assessment of the complaint filed by the United States in March 2018, which alleged violations of the WTO TRIPS Agreement. To provide context for this dispute, the article further explores the longstanding North-South technology transfer debate and the more recent debate on the involuntary disclosure of trade secrets, know-how, and other proprietary information to combat COVID-19. The discussion provides contextual reflections and highlights the challenges and complexities in the U.S.-China forced technology transfer dispute. This article concludes by offering suggestions on how China and the United States can move forward constructively from this ongoing dispute.
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