20-F
BAIDU, INC. filed this Form 20-F on 03/31/2017
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pharmaceutical, health care and other similar businesses, and refraining from providing online marketing services to medical organizations that do not have requisite qualifications from competent regulatory authorities; (ii) modifying our existing auction-based paid search practices, indicating clearly paid search results and the associated risks, and limiting the percentage of marketing information to no more than 30% on each web page; and (iii) establishing and enhancing user protection mechanisms and establishing a system to compensate users harmed by fraudulent marketing information. Such measures have had a negative impact on the number of customers and our revenues in the short term. In addition, there has been negative publicity about fraudulent information in our paid search listings. Although we have been continually enhancing our technology, control and oversight to prevent fraudulent websites, web pages and information from our paid search listings, there is no guarantee that the measures we have taken are effective at all times. Claims, investigations and negative publicity based on the results in our paid search listings, regardless of their merit, may divert management attention, severely disrupt our operations, adversely affect our results of operations and harm our reputation.

Our business may be adversely affected if we were found to have failed to fulfill the additional obligations under the new online advertising rules.

Although the PRC Advertising Law has not specified “paid search results” as a form of advertising, the Interim Administration Measures of Internet Advertising, or the Internet Advertising Measures, which was promulgated by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and became effective on September 1, 2016, characterizes “paid search results” as a form of internet advertising from the perspective of regulating online advertising business. Pursuant to the Internet Advertising Measures, we are subject to additional legal obligations to monitor our P4P customers’ listings on our website during the course of our provision of P4P services. For example, we must examine, verify and record identity information of our P4P customers, such as name, address and contact information, and maintain an updated verification of such information on a regular basis. Moreover, we must examine supporting documentation provided by our P4P customers. Where a special government review is required for specific categories of advertisements before posting, we must confirm that the review has been performed and approval has been obtained. If the content of the advertisement is inconsistent with the supporting documentation, or the supporting documentation is incomplete, the advertisement cannot be published. Failure to comply with these obligations may subject us to fines and other administrative penalties. If advertisements shown on our platform are in violation of relevant PRC advertising laws and regulations, or if the supporting documentation and government approvals provided to us by our P4P customers in connection with the advertising content are not complete or accurate, we may be subject to legal liabilities and our reputation could be harmed. See “Item 4.B. Information on the Company—Business Overview—Regulations—Regulations on Advertisements and Online Advertising.”

We may be subject to patent infringement claims with respect to our P4P platform.

Our technologies and business methods, including those relating to our P4P platform, may be subject to third-party claims or rights that limit or prevent their use. In June 2005, we applied for a patent in China for our P4P platform, but our application was rejected on the ground that it is not patentable. Certain U.S.-based companies, including Overture Services Inc., have been granted patents in the United States relating to P4P platforms and similar business methods and related technologies. While we believe that we are not subject to U.S. patent laws since we conduct our business operations primarily in China, we cannot assure you that U.S. patent laws would not be applicable to our business operations, or that holders of patents relating to a P4P platform would not seek to enforce such patents against us in the United States or China.

Many parties are actively developing and seeking protection for internet-related technologies, including patent protection. They may hold patents issued or pending that relate to certain aspects of our technologies, products, business methods or services. Any patent infringement claims, regardless of their merits, could be time-consuming and costly to us. If we were sued for patent infringement claims with respect to our P4P platform and

 

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