Structural changes in IPR registration and Enforcement bodies in China

EU SMEs should be made aware of important changes made to the structure of Intellectual Property registration, management and enforcement governing bodies in China which were announced in the context of the annual plenary session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (also known as ‘Two Sessions’) which took place in early March. The restructuring of IP management and enforcement bodies is part of a wider reorganization of China’s  ministries and agencies in order to increase their efficiency. The date at which these changes will come into effect has not yet been announced.

The following existing entities are to merge together and fall under the umbrella of a newly created State Market Supervision Administration (SMSA):

  • State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO): This is the Chinese patent office and it is also in charge of the IP foreign affairs. This is the entity at which European SMEs register their patents in China.
  • State Administration of Industry and Commerce’s Function of Trademark Management: Currently Trademark registration is handled before CTMO (China Trade Mark Office), which is under SAIC (State Administration of Industry and Commerce).
  • General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine’s Function of “Place of Origin” Label Management (AQSIQ): They are currently in charge of Geographical Indications. GIs are registered here in China by the regional organisations responsible for these GIs.

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IP Protection for the ICT Industry in Malaysia

board-453758_1920In today’s blog post we are discussing IP protection in Malaysia’s ICT industry, which has recently been offering many promising business opportunities for the European SMEs. You’ll  learn more about patent and design protection and how to ensure that your brand is safe from counterfeiting. 

Malaysia has a booming ICT industry with the ICT sector being forecasted to contribute about 20% to the country’s GDP by 2020.[1] The ICT sector is being further supported by Malaysian government that has taken special interest in developing the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing. The government namely hopes that adoption of cloud computing and building on the National Broadband Initiative, would accelerate Malaysia’s development into an advanced economy[2].

As the government is investing heavily into ICT- related projects like developing smart city infrastructure or strengthening cybersecurity, the ICT sector will offer many promising business opportunities for the European SMEs whose top-notch technology and know-how are highly sought after through encouragement of foreign investments in the ICT sector.

European ICT companies should, however, pay attention to protecting their IP rights when planning their business strategy for Malaysia’s market, because IP infringements are still relatively common in the country. Well-managed IP is often a key factor for business success and neglecting to register IP rights in Malaysia could easily end SMEs’ business endeavor in the country. Thus, a robust IPR strategy is needed, when entering Malaysia’s market. Continue reading “IP Protection for the ICT Industry in Malaysia” »

Design Rights Protection in South-East Asia

shutterstock_385731427In today’s blog post, we are discussing the protection of design rights in South-East Asia. You’ll learn how to protect the aesthetic aspects of your products or how to protect some aspects of your product packaging. The article also gives an overview on how to enforce your rights once an infringement has occurred.

It is essential for SMEs doing business in South-East Asia to protect their intellectual property rights, as poor IP strategy often leads to the end of business endeavor in the region. Design rights are useful, but oftentimes overlooked means of protecting IP in South-East Asia.

An industrial design right, also known as a design patent in certain jurisdictions, is an exclusive right, which protects designs which give a competitive edge to the owner over competitors due to their aesthetic appeal. Industrial designs can take the form of either two- or three-dimensional shapes, configuration or patterns. Prominent examples include the iPod, shape of the Coca Cola bottle, computer icons, and even the design of mobile applications.

To obtain industrial design protection, SMEs must file an application to register the design in all the countries they foresee business activities, since design rights like other IP rights are territorial. Like patents, protection for industrial rights lasts for a limited period and the duration can vary from country to country. Generally, protection lasts for at least 10 years. Continue reading “Design Rights Protection in South-East Asia” »

Protecting the Interior Design of Shops in China

6. Fashion and DesignIn today’s blog post we are taking a closer look on how European SMEs could protect the interior design of shops in China, as it is not unprecedented that even the design of your shop may get copied. You’ll  learn more about trade dress, copyright and design patent protection as viable options for protecting the interior design of your shop. 

When Brent Hoberman, founder of online interior design and furniture store Mydeco.com, made a trip to China one man was particularly keen to meet him. When they met, the man explained that he wanted to launch a web business but had no idea how to do it until he found Mydeco.com and copied it. He only wished to express his appreciation personally to Mr Hoberman.

In 2011 the residents of Kunming, a city in the South-Western region of China were delighted to find an IKEA shop there. The copycat store is an enormous, multi-level shop that sells modern IKEA-like furniture and even copies the distinctive blue and yellow branding. The residents realized it was a fake, but have little choice as the closest real IKEA is in Chongqing, 940km away.

Store layouts, colours and designs become synonymous with a brand, so imitation of a store interior is very damaging to companies. At times it is increasingly difficult to separate the real from the fake.

There is a saying in China, 山高皇帝远 (shāngāo huángdìyuǎn), which means the mountains are high and the emperor is far away, a saying that perfectly encapsulates the reason why some counterfeiting still happens in China, particularly in faraway places such as Kunming. Continue reading “Protecting the Interior Design of Shops in China” »

IP Considerations in Fashion, Design and Lifestyle industry in South-East Asia

fashion2In today’s blog post we are discussing IP protection in fashion, design and lifestyle sector, as this sector is offering more and more business opportunities to  European SMEs in South-East Asia. You’ll learn how to protect your brand in South-East Asia as well as how to protect your design and other creative works.  

The fashion, design and lifestyle sector is a significant driver in South-East Asia’s creative economy. The global fashion industry has traditionally been one of the most lucrative industries, with sales generated in the trillions globally. This is especially true in South-East Asia, where consumers gravitate towards fashion and do not shy away from paying top dollar for luxury fashion products. Singapore, for instance, holds a 2% share of the world apparel market and their fashion industry generates sales of USD3.6 billion[1] (approx. EUR3.1 billion). In Indonesia, it contributed about USD49.3 trillion (approx. EUR42.8 trillion) to the GDP, with the fashion industry alone accounting for 28% of total earnings in the creative economy[2].

Among the South-East Asian countries, the design and lifestyle industry is classified as emerging industries especially in Singapore where, an ad hoc organization, the Design Singapore Council, was established in 2003 to help develop the nation’s design sector, following the Economic Review Committee’s report which identified the creative industry as one of the three new sectors for economic growth of the country.  Similarly, the Thai government is making investments to further strengthen its fashion industry, as for example it is actively supporting the “Bangkok Fashion City” project launched in February 2004, which aims to turn Bangkok into a fashion hub in the South East Asia region and into a world fashion centre.[3]

Given the potential for growth in the fashion, design and lifestyle economy in the South-East Asia region, there is tremendous value in understanding how SMEs can protect their intellectual property in the region. Even though, IP laws and regulations have been considerably improved in most South-East Asian Countries, counterfeiting and other IP violations are still commonplace in the region and thus a comprehensive IP strategy is needed before starting business in the fashion and lifestyle industry in South-East Asia. Continue reading “IP Considerations in Fashion, Design and Lifestyle industry in South-East Asia” »