Trade Fairs: Tips for Better Protection of IP Rights

Trade fairs in China and South-East Asia are a good opportunity for European SMEs to introduce their product to a new market and to find potential partners, distributors and suppliers. However, there are many IP-related risks such as revealing IP assets to potential counterfeiters, when SMEs are attending trade fairs. Thus, SMEs should take specific steps such as registering their IP when going to trade fairs in order to protect their assets. In today’s blog post we have chosen to share with you an infographic explaining to European SMEs what steps they can take before, during and after trade fairs to protect their valuable IP.  

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Using Contracts to Protect your IP in South-East Asia: NDAs and Employment Contracts

MP900438585IPR protection is an essential part of SMEs’ business strategy and it often defines the success of the business. Thus, it is very important for the SMEs to be aware of all of the possibilities to protect their IP. In today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at IP protection with different contracts and agreements. More specifically,  we are discussing Non-Disclosure Agreements and Employment Agreements, which can be used as preemptive measures to deter possible infringers from violating SMEs’ IP rights. 

There are many ways in which intellectual property (IP) owners should protect their valuable assets. Perhaps the most apparent ways are to register the IP in relevant jurisdictions and then enforce that IP right against infringing third parties. There is, however, a very practical and pre-emptive way of protecting IP on a commercial level. SMEs should also think about protecting their IP with different contracts like non-disclosure agreements, memorandums of understanding and employment contracts.

A large proportion of the value of business is derived from IP due to its presence in SMEs’ everyday business. IP can create value and revenue in a number of ways: it can be sold or licensed, contributed as capital in a joint venture, offered to enter into strategic alliances, integrated with a current business, or used to create a new business. The people and companies that SMEs do business with, and therefore contract with, will often use SME’s IP to varying degrees. When doing business that involves IP, there are two key points to bear in mind: always use written contracts wherever possible and ensure that, where relevant, that company’s IP is covered in those agreements.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) and Confidentiality Agreements

Ensuring non-disclosure and confidentiality is important for any type of deal—not only for technology, IP and trade secret matters which may be the core part of the deal, but also for business strategies, new product ideas and financial and accounting information, all of which are likely to be useful in deciding whether a deal will go forward. Non-disclosure and confidentiality undertakings are enforceable in South-East Asia, provided that they are reasonable and fair and do not violate the public interest. Normal Western-style confidentiality undertakings setting out the agreed terms of what constitutes the “confidential information” and what does not, acknowledgement of proprietary interest in the confidential information and penalties for unauthorized disclosure, etc., are also common in Southeast Asia. Continue reading “Using Contracts to Protect your IP in South-East Asia: NDAs and Employment Contracts” »

Dealing with Counterfeiters in China’s Cosmetics Market

cosmeticsDespite major improvements in China’s IP laws and regulations in recent years, counterfeiting is still commonplace in the country and European SMEs wishing to do business in China need to adopt robust IP strategies in order to succeed on China’s lucrative market. In today’s blog post, we are taking a closer look at what are some extra IP protection measures besides registering your IP in China that European SMEs, engaged in cosmetics industry, can take to minimize the risks of counterfeiting. 

Introduction

As with companies in any economic sectors, cosmetics firms have much to gain from early protection of their IPR. Registering IP with Chinese authorities and customs before beginning any type of business activity in the country potentially saves SMEs lot of money as being able to build strong cases against any local firms which may try to steal their IP is only possible when IP is registered in China. Many would-be infringers, however, will move straight to counterfeiting and begin to create knockoff products in the hopes of profiting from SMEs hard work. In these cases, early IP registration is not always enough. Instead, complementary to early IP registrations, SMEs should also adopt a strategy which seeks to defeat counterfeiters through both attrition (by making counterfeiting extremely difficult to accomplish) and offensive action (by coordinating with authorities to conduct raids and launch investigations to halt infringement).

“Soft” Prevention Methods: IPR registrations, online sweeps, and consumer education

An SME’s first step in fighting counterfeiting should always be prevention, halting counterfeiters before they have a chance to create fake products, which will erode an SME’s profit margins and public goodwill. To this end, nothing is more effective than registering IP early. Registering trade marks, industrial designs, patents, etc. with the relevant Chinese authorities can give SMEs powerful legal recourses in the case of an infringement. For larger counterfeit manufacturers with proper factories capable of churning out thousands of counterfeit products a day, the risk of seizure of assets by administrative agencies or customs and awards of damages (or jail time) from People’s Courts pose a significant deterrent. Continue reading “Dealing with Counterfeiters in China’s Cosmetics Market” »

Agribusiness in the Philippines: Protecting New Plant Varieties

MC900449051Underpinned by goverment’s support, the agriculture sector is rapidly growing and modernizing in the Philippines. This offers lucrative business opportunities for European agribusinesses as their technology becomes in high demand. However, IPR violations like counterfeiting are still a major problem in the Philippines and thus European SMEs need to have a robust IPR protection strategy in place when planning to do business in the Philippines. Today’s blog post is taking a look at the new plant varieties protection, something that is of utmost importance to agribusinesses engaged in breeding plants. SMEs will learn what they can do to protect their new plant varieties in the Philippines and how to enforce their rights in case of an infringement. 

The agricultural sector is a major part of the Philippines economy: it makes up around 11% of GDP and employs about a third of the country’s workforce. The Philippines is home to a wide variety of indigenous agricultural products and constitutes a fertile environment that can host a diverse range of plant varieties. There also exists a large a gap in the application of innovative farming practices and the use of new specialised plant varieties, partly highlighted by the Philippines joining the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) which is now driving producers to adopt new practices to compete with imports and achieve profitable exports. Furthermore, the Philippines Agribusiness Strategy aims at transforming and upgrading the agriculture sector from traditional farming to agribusiness or industrial clusters to take advantage of opportunities in rubber, coconut, mangoes, bananas, coffee, palm oil, cacao, and other emerging high value crops[1].

Although, the Philippines is more popularly known for the production of regional tropical fruit (it is the world’s largest producer of both coconuts and pineapples), the Philippines has historically played a significant role in agricultural innovations. The International Rice Research Institute is based in Los Baños, Laguna, and took a prominent role in the development of new high-yield rice varieties during the Green Revolution, with the country now standing as the eighth largest producer in the world[2]. However, in recent years private enterprise has increasingly been the source of innovation and accordingly the need for adequate protection of innovations has been a growing concern. Continue reading “Agribusiness in the Philippines: Protecting New Plant Varieties” »

IPR Protection Strategies in China for the Mechanical Engineering Sector

Manufacture5Underpinned by the Chinese Government’s ambitious Manufacturing 2015 Plan, mechanical engineering sector is expected to offer many lucrative business opportunities in China for the European SMEs in the near future. SMEs wishing to do business in China should keep in mind that despite recent improvements in Chinese IP laws, counterfeiting and other IP infringements are still commonplace in China. Thus, European SMEs need to have a good IP protection strategy in place when entering China’s market. In today’s blog post we are taking a look at IP issues specific to the mechanical engineering sector and offer some first-hand advice on how you can protect your IP in China. 

China’s economic success has been built on manufacturing on a massive scale and despite the economic slow-down, manufacturing is still growing. For example, in the five years to 2015, electrical equipment and machinery manufacturing revenue has been increasing 10.1% annually to EUR 7.8 billion[1].

This has made China’s demand for machinery, tools and related technologies insatiable, making it a potential marketplace for Europe’s high quality products and innovative technologies.

Mechanical engineering sector is expected to see increased growth and opportunities for the European SMEs in the coming years as Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has recently unveiled its Manufacturing 2025 Plan, which aims at lifting china from the ‘big industrial country’ to the ‘powerful industrial country’. Manufacturing 2025 Plan aims at upgrading China’s manufacturing industry by making greater use of technologies like cloud computing. Manufacturing 2025 Plan is especially beneficial for the mechanical engineering sector as the government has chosen many relative industries like automated machine tools and robotics, aerospace and aeronautical equipment, new-energy and power equipment and agricultural equipment as some of the leading industries for the Plan.  These are also the areas, where European SMEs can expect most opportunities.

Unfortunately, IP infringements are still rampant in China. However, as China’s market develops, legislators and enforcement authorities have made progress in updating IPR practices and educating Chinese manufacturers. As a result, patent applications have rocketed and new IP registration procedures and IPR courts have made application and enforcement of IP rights more accessible for foreign actors. Furthermore, the Manufacturing 2025 Plan is expected to further improve the IPR environment.   Continue reading “IPR Protection Strategies in China for the Mechanical Engineering Sector” »