Handling of Trade Secrets in South-East Asia: Focus on Thailand

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fgjTrade secrets are an excellent but often under-exploited means of IP protection for the SMEs. In Today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at trade secret protection in South-East Asia in general as well as in Thailand in particular. You will learn about general trade secret protection requirements and trends in South-East Asia and will get a closer overview of trade secret protection in Thailand in particular. 

Trade secrets are a highly valuable form of intellectual property that nearly all businesses in all industries and sectors possess. However, they are frequently overlooked by businesses, partly because there is confusion about what actually constitutes a trade secret. So what is a trade secret?

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), any confidential business information that is of considerable commercial value to businesses and that provides an enterprise with a competitive edge may be considered a trade secret. In practice, this could be:

  • sales methods
  • distribution methods
  • consumer profiles
  • advertising plans
  • pricing strategies
  • lists of suppliers and clients
  • manufacturing processes

In other words, more often than not trade secrets are the ‘know-how’ that a business builds up over time. Typically, the longer the SME is in business the more valuable its trade secrets will become, and the more its business grows the more its competitors will seek to discover this valuable working knowledge. Therefore, it is increasingly important to take steps to protect trade secrets. Continue reading “Handling of Trade Secrets in South-East Asia: Focus on Thailand” »

Intellectual Property Rights Protection for EU SMEs related to Smart City Solutions

Lily Pictures - v01Smart City Solutions have become the hot topic throughout South-East Asia and the European SMEs engaged in the industries connected to Smart City Solutions are expected to find many promising business opportunities in the region. In today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at the IP protection related to Smart City Solutions in Vietnam. You will learn about whether to protect your inventions with patents or whether you should rely on trade secrets.  

With the rapid development of Vietnam’s cities has come a growing urban integration of information systems. This enhances the city’s efficiency as well as the quality of life of its citizens for many crucial metropolitan features such as mobility, healthcare, waste management, energy, or water-access[1]. Online interconnected systems and a reliance on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) features play a key role in these advancements[2]. The province of Binh Duong, for instance, has started cooperating with the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group to develop the necessary ICT infrastructure with local government agencies.

The importance of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in such context then becomes apparent. By combining a growing demand for high-tech solutions to tackle urban challenges with a tech-savvy population, Vietnam’s cities provide plenty of opportunities for European SMEs to expand their businesses. Yet European SMEs dealing with smart solutions should be mindful of possible IPR risks at hand. They often provide highly innovative niche solutions, but for many urban problems, a solution can only be made successful through a combination of interdependent technologies. In effect, European SMEs may need to expose their innovations to third parties on a regular basis, thus increasing the risks of IP infringement if proper measures are not taken in advance, says Valentina Salmoiraghi, IP Business Advisor. Continue reading “Intellectual Property Rights Protection for EU SMEs related to Smart City Solutions” »

Indonesia Joins the Madrid Protocol

shutterstock_56485213More good news for the European SMEs wishing to register their trade mark in South-East Asian countries, as in addition to Thailand, Indonesia has also joined the Madrid Protocol. Today’s blog post explaining Indonesia’a accession to Madrid Protocol has been kindly drafted for us by our South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk external expert Ms. Wongrat Ratanaprayul from Tilleke & Gibbins. 

On October 2, 2017, Indonesia’s Ministry of Law and Human Rights submitted its instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol, making Indonesia the 100th member state under the treaty. As a result, brand owners will be able to seek protection under the Madrid Protocol from January 2, 2018, onwards.

Once the Madrid System comes into force in Indonesia, the owner of an existing International Trademark Registration (IR) will be able to expand the scope of their protection by filing a subsequent designation to its existing IR, in order to seek additional protection in Indonesia. In addition, trademark owners will be able to file an IR in any other member country designating Indonesia, and trademark owners in Indonesia will similarly be able to file an International Trademark Application to seek protection of their trademark in any other member countries.

Indonesia has opted for an 18-month deadline, within which the registrar is obliged to issue a notification of refusal of international registrations. However, in the case where an opposition is raised by a third party, the Directorate General of Intellectual Property may notify the World Intellectual Property Organization of a notification of refusal after the expiry of the 18-month time limit.   Continue reading “Indonesia Joins the Madrid Protocol” »

IP Considerations for the Automotive Industry in South-East Asia

shift-1838138_1920 In today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at IP protection in South-East Asia for the Automotive Industry, which continues to offer many business opportunities for the European SMEs. You will learn about patent protection and when it would be wiser to relay on trade secrets instead. We will also discuss how you can protect the design of your products and how to take care of your brand. 

The automotive industry in South-East Asia has exhibited robust growth over the last few years. According to the latest statistics from the ASEAN Automotive Federation, combined motor vehicle sales in 7 major ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei) reached 3.16 million in 2016[1], almost double the sales figure in 2006. Underpinned by increasing disposable income throughout the region and increasing demand for motor vehicles South-East Asia’s automotive market is expected to continue to grow rapidly. This also means that there will be promising business opportunities for European SMEs whose expertise and technology are especially sought after.

Taking into account the constant innovation that is at the forefront of the automotive industry, the importance of intellectual property as well as its protection and enforcement, are undeniable. Thus, when exploring the possibility of investing or expanding into the South-East Asian markets, European SMEs should be aware of the IP risks that they will face when operating in this region, in particular with respect to the new technologies and the ability to protect these technologies from local competitors. A comprehensive IP strategy is needed for succeeding in South-east Asia’s markets. Continue reading “IP Considerations for the Automotive Industry in South-East Asia” »

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” »