Kritika: Essays on Intellectual Property
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Kritika: Essays on Intellectual Property

Volume 2

Edited by Gustavo Ghidini, Hanns Ullrich and Peter Drahos

The fields of intellectual property have broadened and deepened in so many ways, and at such pace, that there is a tendency for academic commentators to focus on the next new thing, or to react immediately to judicial developments, rather than to reflect more deeply on the greater themes of the discipline. Kritika: Essays on Intellectual Property is a series of books designed to fulfil this role by creating a forum for essays that take a critical, long-term approach to the field of intellectual property. Volume 2 covers issues such as inter alia the current limits of knowledge and approaches to intellectual property, a functional account of intellectual property rights, China’s approach to innovation and intellectual property, the emergence of multi-layered IP-protection for designed objects, and the trajectory of increased protection for intellectual property.
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Chapter 2: Taobao,WeChat and Xiaomi: how innovation flourishes in China’s ‘fertile land of intellectual property piracy’

Ken Shao


Very recently, Chinese companies have started to outpace multinational corporations (MNCs) in advanced research, emerging technologies and trend analyses, and MNCs in China are shifting innovation strategies to align with the Chinese model. How does innovation happen in a nation that for decades has been regarded as the pacemaker of global piracy and intellectual property infringement? What is the social foundation, or the ‘sociology of creative practice’, that drives China’s innovation capacities? This paper argues that piracy, albeit embarrassing, speculative and often harmful, under extreme social conditions leads to great affordability and then abundant accessibility of both foreign and domestic knowledge products. This has enabled young Chinese cybercitizens (or Diaosi) to develop experience with top-quality creative products to an extent that perfection becomes a common expectation from which China’s innovation leaders such as Taobao, WeChat and Xiaomi have to draw their inspirations. Key words China, Diaosi, user innovation, consumer demand, intellectual property piracy

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