IP Protection in the Food & Beverages Industry in Thailand

shutterstock_173260598In today’s blog post we are taking a closer look to IP protection in Thai food and beverage industry, which is growing fast and attracting more and more European SMEs. You’ll learn more about brand protection in Thailand and how to protect your unique product packaging. The article will also discuss trade secrets and geographical indications. 

Thailand’s rapidly growing food & beverage industry is one of the biggest contributors to nation’s economy, contributing about 23% of the country’s GDP. Known as the ‘food basket of Asia’, Thailand is one of the Asia’s largest producers and exporters of food, with food exports amounting to 23.5 billion EUR in 2015.[1] Given Thai government’s commitment to positioning the country as a global food innovation hub, Thailand’s F&B industry has recently become very attractive for European SMEs.

Propelled by increasing dispensable income, Thailand’s domestic food and beverages market looks promising for the European SMEs. The country’s rapidly growing urban middle class constitutes a consumer base that is increasingly health-conscious, pays attention to the nutrition value of the food, but at the same time is increasingly eager to purchase processed and packaged foods and, especially the urban youth, is willing to try out new flavors and exotic F&B products. The busy lifestyle of urban youth is favoring ready-to-eat meals, snack foods and convenience products.

As the spending power of the upper-middle class is increasing, there is also greater demand for imported premium products, which offers many business opportunities for the European SMEs.

At the same time, together with rapid economic growth, counterfeiting in food products has also increased dramatically in recent years. Thus, the EU SMEs should take steps to ensure that their IP rights are protected, when selling their food products to Thailand, especially as neglecting to register IP rights in Thailand could easily end SMEs’ business endeavor in the country. Continue reading “IP Protection in the Food & Beverages Industry in Thailand” »

Basics of Manufacturing Non-disclosure Agreements in China

Page 1. ContractsIn today’s blog post we are going to take a closer look at different contracts and agreements that help European companies to protect their precious IP in China. In particular, you will learn more about non-disclosure agreements and non-use, non-disclosure and non-circumvention agreements. 

Introduction: contracts in China

Many SMEs view Chinese manufacturers as cheap, technically-skilled, attractive options for manufacturing their products and as such pursue partnerships with them. While Chinese manufacturers can be the key to the products needed to give your company worldwide reach, China—like all countries—can be home to unscrupulous merchants with a taste for IP theft. As such, tailoring contracts to suit your intellectual property rights (IPR) is an important way to ensure that your company’s specific intellectual property assets are adequately protected when dealing with Chinese manufacturers. In particular, this article will address use of so-called NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) and NNNs (non-use, non-disclosure, and non-circumvention agreements) to protect an SME’s trade secrets—“any non-public technical or business information with commercial value that is guarded by confidentiality measures.”

What are NDAs and NNNs?

At its core, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) between an SME and a Chinese manufacturer is an agreement which states that once the SME reveals its trade secrets to the Chinese manufacturer, the manufacturer will refrain from disclosing those secrets to anyone else. Once a secret loses its secrecy—once it is revealed to the public—it no longer has any kind of legal protection and, most likely, will lose its economic value. That is why NDAs are go-to contracts for any SME which seeks to use a Chinese manufacturer. Otherwise, the manufacturer could reveal the SME’s trade secrets, making those secrets impossible to protect and capitalise on. Continue reading “Basics of Manufacturing Non-disclosure Agreements in China” »

IP Considerations in South-East Asia for the Food and Beverages Industry

gi-pictureIn today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at the IP protection in the food and beverage sector in South-East Asia, a sector that has recently seen a  lot of attention from the European SMEs as it offers many promising business opportunities. In this blog post you’ll learn more about branding, protecting your product packaging and protecting your authentic products from specific geographical region with Geographical Indications. 

South-East Asia is home to more than 600 million people and it is the third largest market in the world, with ten countries integrated in a common market under the ASEAN Economic Community. South-East Asia also has high economic growth between 3-10 percent per annum, which is driven primarily by consumption, due to the large population and a growing middle-class.

With higher disposable incomes and increasing health-consciousness, today’s consumers in South-East Asia are seeking healthier food and beverage choices. They tend to look for higher quality products, including those imported from overseas. This has opened up a range of attractive opportunities for European as European products are generally considered to be of high quality. However, diversity and regulatory affairs can sometimes be challenging in various local markets. South-East Asia has a wide mix of cultures, religions, customs, culinary preferences, and demographics that greatly impacts the F&B sector. For example, Indonesia and Malaysia have large Muslim populations, which could provide many business opportunities for halal-certified F&B products manufactured in Europe. Conversely, there are limited opportunities for imported wines and spirits in Indonesia and Malaysia due to the religious limitations on alcohol consumption.

European SMEs should, however, not forget to pay attention to protecting their IP, because despite the fact that most South-East Asian countries have good IP laws and regulations in place, IP infringements are relatively commonplace throughout South-East Asia. Well-managed IP is often a key factor for business success and neglecting these rights could be costly. Thus, a comprehensive IPR strategy is needed, when entering South-East Asia’s markets. Continue reading “IP Considerations in South-East Asia for the Food and Beverages Industry” »

Champagne or Sparkling Wine? Geographic Indications Protection in China

Photo Andrea Parrish GeyerAs the food and beverage market offers many business opportunities to European SMEs as Chinese consumers are looking for healthy quality products, we have dedicated today’s blog post to geographical indications protection in China. Registering geographical indications in China offers another layer of protection to SMEs that are producing European high-quality products associated with certain regions or production methods.

What is a Geographic Indication (GI)?

“Champagne”, “Bordeaux”, “Parma Ham”, “Parmesan”. Each of these products, associated with certain regions, are renowned and trusted for their nature, quality and authenticity. As a consumer, you are probably more familiar with “Scotch”, “Cognac” and “Bavarian beer” than unnamed brands claiming to use the same ingredients. A GI is therefore a labelling that identifies a good as originating in a specific territory, region or locality, where characteristics of the good are associated with its place of origin.

GIs are protected by World Trade Organization (WTO) signatories, including all 28 European Union (EU) Member States (MS) and China – since 2001. This is designed to prevent unfair competition and to protect consumers from purchasing goods that misleadingly claim to be from a particular place.

Made in China?

China’s middle class is growing; as has its appetite for imported – predominantly Western – products. Younger generations spend significantly less time cooking than their parents and are increasingly quality- and status-conscious. In addition, food safety concerns in recent years have encouraged Chinese shoppers to more carefully consider the origin of the products that they consume. Purchasing patterns have therefore experienced a significant shift. Regarding food, large numbers of Chinese people are purchasing brands that are recognised for their quality and food safety standards – this has stimulated a rise in sales of Western goods. Similarly, while sales of traditional alcoholic drinks, like baijiu, still dominate in many places, individuals in wealthy Tier 1 cities are increasingly opting for higher-end Western wines, beers and spirits.[1]  Continue reading “Champagne or Sparkling Wine? Geographic Indications Protection in China” »

Cleantech in Thailand: Some IP Considerations for the Rapidly Developing Market

clean-techIn today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at the IP protection in Cleantech industry in Thailand, which has in recent years attracted the attention of European SMEs as the market is offering many promising opportunities.

As Thailand is one of the leaders in South-East Asia region in terms of renewable energy solutions, especially connected to solar power, but also to biomass and hydropower, its market attracts cleantech companies from over the world. Given Thai government’s ambitious plan of achieving a 25% energy consumption from renewable energy sources by 2021[1], and the fact Thailand’s energy consumption is predicted to jump by 75% over next two decades[2], Thai cleantech market is expected to offer promising opportunities for European SMEs whose top-notch technology is especially sought after.

Because of the abundance of renewable energy sources, including sun, hydropower, and biomass, the country could become a true renewable energy powerhouse. Cleantech companies focused on solar energy, biosphere alternative energy systems, energy conservation and efficiency can find promising business opportunities in Thailand because these areas are also receiving the lion’s share of Thai government’s investments on renewable energy.

European cleantech companies should, however, pay attention to protecting their IP rights when planning their business strategy for the Thai market, because IP infringements are still relatively common in the country. Furthermore, cleantech industry tends to have high level of collaboration and licensing which make IP ownership the centerpiece of the business strategy.  Well-managed IP is often a key factor for business success and neglecting to register IP rights in Thailand could easily end SMEs’ business endeavor in the country. Thus, a robust and integrated IPR strategy is needed, when entering Thailand’s market. Continue reading “Cleantech in Thailand: Some IP Considerations for the Rapidly Developing Market” »