China said a World Trade Organization report approved Friday rejected the majority of intellectual property complaints made by the United States and broadly backed Beijing's stance against commercial piracy.
China's Ministry of Commerce also said the expert group report approved by a WTO dispute settlement body in Geneva stressed that its findings did not affect China's right to censor content.
The expert group report rebutted the great majority of the U.S. side's claims and broadly vindicated China's intellectual property system, spokesman Yao Jian said in the statement issued on the ministry's website (www.mofcom.gov.cn).
The WTO (www.wto.org) has not yet formally issued this latest report in the groundbreaking commercial piracy case brought by Washington against Beijing.
Washington may not share the view that the latest findings in the case are a defeat.
The United States launched the case in 2007 out of frustration at rip-offs of films, branded goods and other trademarked property openly available in Chinese cities.
The International Intellectual Property Alliance, a coalition of U.S. entertainment and software industry groups, has claimed piracy in China costs them billions of dollars in lost sales.
In January, Washington claimed victory so far in the case, accusing China of failing to protect and enforce copyrights and trademarks. It said a WTO panel found shortcomings in Beijing laws and policies incompatible with its WTO obligations.
But the Chinese-language statement from Beijing said many of its arguments against the U.S. complaints were accepted by the WTO expert group.
The expert group found the U.S. failed to prove Chinese thresholds for prosecuting intellectual property offences did not satisfy the WTO rules, according to the Chinese statement.
The statement said the panel also found that while China's practice of merely stripping illegal markings off counterfeit imports violated those rules, the U.S. side was unable to prove that giving the goods to charities or selling them off itself violated the rules.
The United States said in January the WTO dispute settlement panel found China broke the rules by barring copyright protection for movies, music and books not approved by state censors for legitimate sale.
China's Ministry of Commerce said the group found that while it should extend such protection to works rejected by censors, that obligation did not extend to works not submitted to censors, awaiting their assessment, or not amended as demanded by them.
(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Paul Tait)