IP Protection Strategies in the Philippines for the Logistics and Transportation Industry

Logistics3In today’s blog post we will discuss the IP protection in the Logistics and Transportation industry –  one of the fast-growing industries in the Philippines that is also expected to offer promising business opportunities to European SMEs whose top-notch technology is especially sought after. The blog post offers some practical tips on IP protection to keep in mind before entering the promising market of the Philippines. 

The logistics and transportation industry in the Philippines is growing steadily due to strong economic growth in the country and gradual increase in domestic demand fueled by the rise of the country’s middle class and increase in remittances from workers abroad. According to various studies, the industry is expected to grow as much as 16.7% by 2020.[1] Opportunities for logistics providers also continue to expand thanks to the steady growth in the Philippine’s e-commerce sector.

However, transportation costs in the Philippines are still significantly higher than in many other ASEAN countries, notably in Malaysia and Thailand. This is due to the geographic challenges that the Philippines faces as a conglomerate of islands, but also due to unclear regulations imposed by different government agencies that sometimes induce informal payments.[2] The transportation and logistics industry also faces some infrastructural challenges as the country still suffers from congestion on the roads in urban areas and at seaports. For example, clearance time for shipments at ports is more than twice as long in the Philippines than in many of its neighboring countries.

On the other hand, this year the Philippine government has put forward an ambitious plan of modernizing and improving the country’s infrastructure such as building new roads, railways, airports and improving the situation of seaports.  The government has also committed itself to improving the regulations and to fight corruption in transportation sector.[3] This means that the transportation and logistics industry would offer lucrative business opportunities for European SMEs in the near future.

European logistics and transportation SMEs wishing to enter the Philippines’ market need to keep in mind that despite the improvements in the Philippines’ IP laws and regulations, counterfeiting and other IP infringements are still commonplace in the country and thus a robust IP strategy is needed to grow their business in the Philippines. Continue reading “IP Protection Strategies in the Philippines for the Logistics and Transportation Industry” »

Handling Trade Secrets in China: IP Case Study

MP900387752In today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at a rather overlooked means of IP protection, namely trade secrets. Even though, trade secrets are a type of IP that does not require formal registration, there are still some aspects to pay attention to when using trade secrets to protect your inventions in China. We’ve chosen a case study involving a Dutch SME to highlight some of these aspects. 

Trade Secrets in China 

Nearly all businesses in all industries and sectors possess trade secrets. Trade secrets are a valuable and highly useful form of intellectual property that are nevertheless often undervalued and overlooked by their owners. This is not least the case in the service sector where the relative value of trade secrets as intangible assets can be extremely high. For example, a logistics firm may not hold any patents or few trade marks and substantial copyrights, but the value of its operations could heavily derive from information contained within client lists and standard procedures.

A considerable advantage for trade secrets is that unlike some other forms of IP rights, such as patents and copyrights that have a finite term, trade secrets can theoretically enjoy an infinite term of protection so long as the trade secret remains just that – a secret. The main difference between protecting something by patent or as a trade secret is that, while technical information is publicly disclosed in patents, it is kept away from the public eye in trade secrets. A trade secret can last forever as long as the confidentiality measures that protect it continue to work. An invention patent typically expires after 20 years.

On the other hand, legal protection of trade secrets is easily lost. Once the information becomes public information, it no longer enjoys any legal protection. As a result, prevention is the golden rule when it comes to protecting your trade secrets, because once your secret is out, there is usually very little that you can do about it. China, like most other countries, provides a legal framework for the protection for trade secrets, and the law provides for remedies in the event that your trade secrets are unlawfully disclosed. Continue reading “Handling Trade Secrets in China: IP Case Study” »

Dealing with Partners and Employees: Writing a Good Manufacturing Non-disclosure Agreement in China

MP900438585There are various ways in which European SMEs can protect their IP. The most obvious way is to register IP in the country where SMEs do business in. At the same time, another, sometimes overlooked, way to protect IP is using well-written contracts. The people and companies that SMEs do business with in China, and therefore contract with, will often use the European SMEs’ IP to varying degrees. Therefore, it is also very important for the European SMEs to protect their IP with well-written manufacturing contracts. Today’s blog post gives some  practical tips on how to write good manufacturing non-disclosure agreements for doing business in China. 

Defining protected information: keeping everyone on the same page

NNN agreements should clearly define which rights are being disclosed or licensed, their nature, and their scope. Clear mechanisms for identifying and marking, accounting for, and maintaining secrecy for this information (or indications of who will bear these responsibilities, what general types of information should be considered confidential, or processes for retroactively marking material as confidential) should be present. If desired, additional clauses can also outline what types of information will not be considered confidential. Naturally, before these types of information can be identified, an SME should first understand just what its trade secrets are. Conducting an IP assessment and audit can identify key IP which was otherwise taken for granted or not fully appreciated by the SME and can assign a value to the IP which will make calculating contract damages much easier.

While the contract is in force, these rules should be strictly followed. Over the course of the contract, additional IP may be generated as a result of the work of employees or independent innovations on the part of the manufacturer. NNN agreements can also include clauses which dictate that all such IP belongs to the SME and can thereby avoid future disputes. Note, however, that China places restrictions on the export of some technology—meaning that agreements automatically granting new IP to the SME could be struck down in court. Continue reading “Dealing with Partners and Employees: Writing a Good Manufacturing Non-disclosure Agreement in China” »

IP Protection in Thailand for the Tourism Industry

shutterstock_85716494As the summer is fast approaching, many European companies engaged in tourism industry are looking for opportunities to expand their business into South-East Asian countries. Thailand, for example, offers many promising business opportunities for the European SMEs in tourism industry as tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in there. However, European SMEs should not let the summer’s heat take their focus away from IP protection when planning their move to Thailand, because IPR infringements are still commonplace in Thailand. Today’s blog post, thus, discusses IP Protection in Thailand, focusing particularly on the tourism industry.

Tourism industry in Thailand continues to offer many lucrative opportunities to European SMEs as Thailand remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Asia Pacific region due to its white sandy beaches, abundant tropical nature, inexpensive accommodation and well-developed transport and communication infrastructure. Underpinned by government’s and private sector stakeholders’ recent efforts to market Thailand around the globe, the industry has grown to become one of the country’s most productive and sustainable industries, contributing a total of EUR 69bn towards the economy in 2014, making up more than 19% of the GDP of Thailand.[1]

SMEs engaged in tourism need to pay special attention to protecting their intellectual property (IP) rights, because despite recent improvements in Thailand’s IP legal framework, IP infringements are still relatively common in the country. IP rights are a key factor for business success and neglecting to register them in Thailand could easily end SMEs’ business endeavor in the country. Thus, a robust IPR strategy is needed, when entering the lucrative market of Thailand.  Continue reading “IP Protection in Thailand for the Tourism Industry” »

Drug Innovation through Better Enforcement: IPR Protection in the Pharmaceutical Industry in China

singapore-desig_20936179_291437f5e9d7dd7c8ce0b4b67e7eddf6629f8e0d (1)Underpinned by the governmental support, the pharmaceutical industry is booming in China, offering some promising business opportunities for the European SMEs. However, despite the improvements in Chinese IP laws and regulations, IP infringements are still commonplace in China. Thus, European SMEs wishing to do business in the pharmaceutical sector in  China need to pay attention to IP issues. Today’s blog post discusses IP protection measures in the Pharmaceutical industry, focusing especially on patents and trade secrets as the main IP protection measures in the Pharmaceutical Industry. 

IP Protection in the Pharmaceutical Industry

China is one of the largest pharmaceutical markets in the world. Its development is high on the government’s reform agenda, as they seek to provide stimulus and intensify research and development (R&D) activity. This, coupled with enhanced health awareness among a rapidly growing patient pool, makes the country an increasingly attractive market for foreign business. The China IPR SME Helpdesk explains the current intellectual property regime in China, and says that better enforcement will create a more secure environment that can attract more R&D and stimulate higher levels of innovation in China’s pharmaceutical industry.

The level of intellectual property (IP) enforcement in China has constrained pharmaceutical companies’ efforts in carrying out R&D activities in the country. However, China’s Patent Law is soon due to be revised, and is expected to foster greater innovation and slow the proliferation of counterfeit drugs. A growing number of companies have become increasingly attracted to having an R&D center in China, as a local presence provides generally lower cost base and favorable tax rates.

Patents

China’s Patent Law protects technological innovations for active pharmaceutical ingredients, drug combinations, pharmaceutical formulations, preparation processes of pharmaceutical products, new medical indications of a known drug and medical devices, among others. Most pharmaceutical innovations are protected by invention patents which provide 20 years’ protection. Continue reading “Drug Innovation through Better Enforcement: IPR Protection in the Pharmaceutical Industry in China” »