Friday, September 23, 2005
A company in China has begun marketing condoms under the brand names "Clinton" (克林顿) and "Lewinsky" (莱温斯基). Packages of a dozen will also include a card with a racy picture (春宫图) on one side and an adult joke (成人笑话) on the other.
Apparently neither of the two persons after whom the condoms are named has been consulted, but the general manager of the company assures us that his company holds the trademark, and has indeed turned down an offer of 10 million yuan for it.
My thanks to Maochun Yu for this story.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
I have received the following announcement:
Late applications for 2006-07 Fulbright Scholar grants in China are being accepted from scholars in a wide variety of sub-field of law including: administrative, business, contract, investment, civil, tax, constitutional comparative, intellectual property and international. Grants are for 5 or 10 months. Five-month grants start in August 2006 or February 2007 and academic year grants start in August 2006. Applicants may express a preference regarding host institution and host city, but final determination of placements is at the discretion of the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy in Beijing in consultation with the Ministry of Education. Applicants do NOT need to secure a letter of invitation. Applicants must have a minimum of 5 years of law school teaching experience either full-time or as an adjunct. The lecturing grants in China include a generous benefits package.
For more information visit www.cies.org or contact David Adams, email@example.com or 202-686-4021.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I am deeply saddened to announce the passing away last Friday of William Jones, Charles Nagel Professor Emeritus of International and Comparative Law at Washington University Law School in St. Louis. Bill was truly a wonderful human being -- highly respected by his colleagues for his work and warmly beloved for his character. When I first came across Bill's work, I was struck in particular by his writing style: plain and direct, without a touch of jargon. When he found Chinese law confusing -- and it often is -- he said so directly, instead of hiding behind a thicket of impenetrable language and hoping that the reader would blame himself.
I hope in about a week or so to post here a collection of tributes from his colleagues. Until then, here is something written in 1996 by Prof. William Alford of Harvard Law School that will serve very well: Download alford_tribute.pdf. Here also is something I contributed to the same symposium in Bill's honor: Download clarke_tribute.pdf
This post is open to comments if anyone would like to add remarks of their own.
Ave atque vale.
Monday, September 19, 2005
The OECD has just come out with "Economic Survey of China 2005", its assessment and recommendations regarding the main economic challenges faced by China. Following is a summary of the report's assessment of legal issues:
Prospects could be enhanced by further modernisation of the business framework,
The growing importance of the private sector in supporting the economy makes it all the more important to further modernise the legal framework for business. The government is preparing legislation in three important areas: bankruptcy law, company law and the implementation of the constitutional amendment on property rights. The second draft of the bankruptcy law has now passed the legislature and is generally acknowledged to follow international best practice. The law should clearly establish the precise claims that employees have on assets, limiting payments to wages owed to employees and leaving other costs, such as redundancy and resettlement expenses, to social funds. Secured creditors would be more likely to lend to private companies under such circumstances. A new company law is under consideration. A reduction in the barriers to the formation of both limited and joint stock companies should be a priority. The upper limits on the number of shareholders in a limited company should be abolished, while at the lower end companies with one shareholder should be allowed. For both sorts of companies the minimum capital requirements needed for incorporation should be lowered. Such changes would facilitate the expansion of privately-owned companies. The revised company law should aim to improve corporate governance, notably offering better protection to minority shareholders in both quoted and unquoted public companies and defining the role of corporate bodies such as the supervisory board and the duties of directors. In addition, the proposed anti-monopoly law should cover a much wider range of anti-competitive activities than do current laws. Finally, rapid introduction of the laws to implement the constitutional amendment on private property rights should be envisaged.
with better enforcement of laws in the economic sphere
Beyond the content of the law, though, there is a more substantial problem of giving force to economic laws. A relatively complete set of laws and regulations covering intellectual property rights is in force, having been updated in 2001. The focus of government policy in this area has now switched to the enforcement of these laws. Adequate protection of intellectual property is also of increasing importance to Chinese entrepreneurs. Weaknesses here may hold back the degree of innovation and product development of local companies. At present, in this and other areas, it can be very difficult to obtain judgements in court and even more difficult to obtain enforcement of the judgement. Such difficulties are not just felt by foreign enterprises. Chinese entrepreneurs feel that expansion across provincial borders is made difficult by the lack of objectivity of local judiciaries when it comes to trying cases involving the infringement of trade secrets, intellectual property rights and contract enforcement more generally. The solution would appear to require a series of steps. One might be to transfer some of the financing of courts to the central government; another would be increase the extent of specialisation of the courts (notably in the area of bankruptcy and intellectual property).
To the list of imminent legislation should be added a substantially revised Securities Law, which could be passed as early as the end of this year, and in any case probably next year.