How to use the Patent Cooperation Treaty: Focusing on South-East Asia

patent-without backgroundIn today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at how to use the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) when applying for patents in multiple South-East Asian Countries. You will learn what are the benefits of the PCT and what is requested in the international as well as national phases of application. 

What is the PCT?

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is a multilateral treaty that was established in Washington in 1970 and is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The treaty makes it possible to obtain simultaneous patent protection for an invention in each PCT Contracting State by filing an international patent application. An application may be filed by a national citizen or a resident of a PCT Contracting State. All European countries, as well as China, are contracting parties to the PCT and in South-East Asia, all nations except for Cambodia and Myanmar are contracting parties.

Filing an international PCT application automatically includes all countries bound by the PCT. The application has the same effect in each country as if a national patent application had been filed with the national patent office. Therefore if an SME wishes to enter into several different South-East Asian markets, it would be time –efficient to file an international PCT application rather than preparing several different applications for individual countries. Continue reading “How to use the Patent Cooperation Treaty: Focusing on South-East Asia” »

An Introduction to Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement in China and South-East Asia

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This article is written by our China IP Expert, Ms Alessandra Chies, on the occasion of the Texworld Trade Fair, the No.1 European Trade Fair for Worldwide Apparel Sourcing which this year took place in Paris on 18-21 September. It gathered over 600 international suppliers, companies and EU SMEs, as well as about 950 fabrics manufacturers from 27 countries. 90px-Aguayos This article provides a concise yet comprehensive introduction to Intellectual Property protection and enforcement in China and South-East Asia, and summarizes the main talking points discussed by Alessandra Chies at Texworld on 18 September 2017. 

Intellectual Property (IP) protection is a primary method for securing a return on investment in innovation, offering to IP owners a competitive edge that others will not have. SMEs invest a tremendous amount of time, passion and monetary efforts in R&D and marketing, but often fail to consider that, in most countries, the only way to enjoy exclusive rights over their creative efforts and their business identity (trademark) is through IPRs registration. Considering that in the textile sector one single product can brilliantly encompass almost all form of IP rights, understanding and defending them is a paramount objective: a Patent for the new man-made yarn, the Design for an innovative texture of the fabric, the Copyright for the drawing painted on it, the Trade-secret for the dying procedure and the Trademark as representation of the business identity, all in one small piece of cloth.

The point is that Trademarks, Designs, Patents, are territorial rights and most countries adopt the first to file principle: this means in practice that the IPRs belong to their creator only if their creator was the first one to register it in that Country. And each Country in the world has its set of rules, its peculiarities, its advantages and pitfalls. Without being secured through registration, with the assistance of lawyers, expert in the jurisdiction, your IPRs can be freely exploited by anybody else. Considering the importance of the China market and the wonderful opportunities it offers in terms of production abilities, raw and semi-processed materials and the growing purchasing power and awareness of Chinese consumers, SMEs cannot afford to put-off investments in IP registration and enforcement in China and in the South-East Asian countries that are slowly but steadily emerging. Continue reading “An Introduction to Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement in China and South-East Asia” »

Protecting your IP while Transferring Technology to China

Manufacture4Since China’s market for clean technologies offers significant business opportunities for the European SMEs, then in this week, the EU Gateway Business Avenues took selected European companies to Beijing, China for a business mission in Clean Technologies. Many of these companies are considering bringing their technology to China, which however,  involves many IP risks. Therefore, in today’s blog post, we have chosen to discuss IP issues relating to technology transfer. The blog post offers some tips on how to safely bring your technology to China. 

Many European Companies are keen to come to China. While in the past, European companies came to China to take advantage of low-cost manufacturing for export, more recently, they have come to enter the Chinese domestic market, establish R&D, engage in cooperative development, take advantage of a skilled work force, establish suppliers, and develop long-term partnerships in China. In order to achieve this, they are often willing to ‘transfer’ their key technology and designs to Chinese subsidiaries of European firms, joint-venture (JV) partners, or Chinese manufacturing and service companies. One of the challenges facing European companies coming to China is devising creative solutions to minimize the risk to their intellectual property (IP) associated with such technology transfers.

A technology transfer happens in a number of different ways. European companies most commonly transfer their technology by licensing their patents, designs, software, trade secrets, and know-how. Ownership of the technology may be transferred, but this type of transfer is less common. A common misconception is that a technology transfer is limited to transfers of high technology. However, many European companies using contract manufacturing to manufacture low technology, consumer, or industrial products, for example based on product designs, must deal with many of the same risks to their IP as their high technology counterparts. Continue reading “Protecting your IP while Transferring Technology to China” »

How to Secure Effective Evidence at Trade Fairs in China

Page 1. 1.Protecting your IP at Trade FairsTrade fairs are a great place for European SMEs to introduce their products to China and to find suitable business partners. With the coming spring there will be many opportunities for European SMEs to participate at various trade fairs in China. SMEs planning to participate in trade fairs should however have the full knowledge of what to do if they happen to find infringing products at trade fairs, in order to be able to protect their business. Thus in today’s blog post we have chosen to discuss how to effectively secure evidence at trade fairs in China. 

For companies considering moving into international markets, trade fairs are a key channel to introduce their product to the new market, expand visibility and customer base and seek partners for manufacturing, distribution and retail.For many European SMEs, exhibiting at a major trade fair in China may be the first step towards internationalisation. However, as well as providing business opportunities, trade fairs also pose risks for exhibitors by exposing new products, technology, designs and brands to those who would copy the efforts of others for their own financial gain. In many ways a trade fair can be viewed as a supermarket for local counterfeiters looking for the next great product to copy or brand to appropriate, often to be sold at the same fair that the original product developer would like to exhibit.

Examples of typical infringements found at trade fairs include:

  • Displaying and selling counterfeit products bearing the trade mark(s) identical or similar to others’ registered trade mark(s);
  • Displaying and selling the products counterfeiting other’s patent rights;
  • Utilising others’ copyrighted images, texts in the advertisement and/or company brochure and/or product catalogue;
  • Copying others’ products’ design;
  • Copying the design of another’s exhibition booth.

Why is collecting evidence important?

Evidence is needed for IPR enforcement. No matter which enforcement action is best suited for the company, the European SME will need to prove that its IPR have been infringed by producing a significant volume of evidence. In China’s People’s Court the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff (claimant) and documentary evidence is far stronger than witness testimony. As well as proving ownership via IPR certificates SMEs must prove the infringement via physical evidence including contracts, photographs of infringing products and proof of sale which have been validated by a notary public (a public officer or other person who is authorised to authenticate documents, evidence etc). If SMEs wish to seek assistance from an administrative body (e.g. the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) for trade marks) they must provide a similar body of evidence for the case to be accepted. Continue reading “How to Secure Effective Evidence at Trade Fairs in China” »

How to Remove Counterfeit Goods from E-Commerce Sites in China

Online IPR ProtectionAs more and more European SMEs embrace the popular e-commerce concept in China, they are also confronted with online counterfeiting problems. Today’s blog post discusses how European SMEs can monitor online selling sites and how they can start the notice and take down process to remove counterfeits from the most famous Chinese online e-commerce sites like Taobao and Alibaba. 

China: Counterfeit goods and the internet

The internet has become a popular and easy channel for product distribution around the world. It has created a marketplace of more than half a billion users in China, more than a third of the world’s total online population, and is still expanding. Apart from being a forum for legitimate vendors and original products, the internet is also used by illegal and unscrupulous businesses as a platform for the distribution of counterfeit goods which infringe intellectual property rights (IPR).

As the internet provides a convenient platform for counterfeits, we recommend that every European SME (especially those with successful products) should monitor Chinese e-commerce sites for infringing products. By moving quickly you will be able to have infringing products removed from sale and preserve your market share. Although some companies find that internet monitoring is time consuming but you may find yourself at high risk if you sell your product on the Chinese market, manufacture your product in China or even if you have a popular product on sale in Europe. Continue reading “How to Remove Counterfeit Goods from E-Commerce Sites in China” »