IPR Protection in China for the OEM Industry

cool20080814_015In today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at IP protection in China’s OEM industry. You will learn about the IP associated with OEM industry like trade marks, copyrights and design patents, as well as how to protect the IP relevant to OEM industry. The blog post also provides some tips on how to mitigate IP risks in OEM contracts. 

The term Original Equipment Manufacturer (‘OEM’) designates a company that only makes a part of a product, or a subsystem, to be used in another company’s end product. The extension, also designates the agreement whereby one company commissions another to manufacture products according to certain specifications and to affix a trade mark on such products; the said products are delivered to the commissioner who sells them in the market under his own name. The letters ‘OEM’ therefore designate both the manufacturer and the act of commissioning the finished product to a third party.

China’s OEM sector developed rapidly from its roots in the apparel industry to a sector comprising automotive parts, cosmetics, and ICT equipment. As the world’s leading manufacturer, China attracts manufacturing contracts from global customers, including many European SMEs, in almost every industry by capitalising on Chinese OEM’s core strengths—relatively low labour costs, experienced manufacturers, and skilled workers.

Even though China’s IPR laws and regulations have improved in past years, IP infringements are still commonplace in the country and thus protection intellectual of property rights related to the goods is a crucial element of a successful China OEM strategy. Continue reading “IPR Protection in China for the OEM Industry” »

Case Study: Protecting Design and Innovation in China

shutterstock_385731427In today’s blog post we are discussing design protection in China. We have chosen the case of a popular anti-pollution mask company Vogmask to explain the importance of also protecting the appearance of your products when doing business in China.

Innovative technology that is used in consumer products can be protected under invention or design patents in China, but this will not offer 100% protection against others illegally using the innovations in knock-off products, particularly while the patent is still pending. However, when it comes to products with functional technology, consumers are sensitive to quality. It is therefore beneficial to think about other ways to convince potential customers that your goods are the best in the market. Updating designs can serve to compliment technical innovation and keep a product ahead of those trying to emulate or imitate.

Vogmask is a popular anti-pollution mask product available in China, using an innovative microfiber filtration fabric. Christopher Dobbing founded Vogmask China in 2013. Originally an education consultant, he found that most students he worked with mentioned air pollution as a major challenge for China in the next 10 years, and that many of them had breathing illnesses or carried an inhaler with them. While searching for a good quality mask that he could recommend to students, Christopher got in touch with Vogmask USA. Vogmask UK and Vogmask China were founded shortly after. Continue reading “Case Study: Protecting Design and Innovation in China” »

IPR Protection in China’s Textile Industry

sweatshirts-428607_1920Two weeks ago we were discussing IP protection in South-East Asia’s textile industry, in today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at the IP protection in China’s textile industry, which is still offering many promising business opportunities to European Businesses. The blog post will offer advice to textile producers, to the producers of yarns and fabrics as well as to the producers of textile machinery. In this blog post you can get further information on trade mark, patent, copyright and trade secret protection. 

China’s textile industry is both an opportunity and threat to European businesses. It is a major market for those supplying production technologies and a key supply base for textiles and finished goods. However, foreign technologies and brands that are not adequately protected often fall victim to infringement by Chinese competitors. This article addresses IP issues across subsectors of the textile industry, including textile machinery, yarns and specialty fabrics, finished fabrics and brand apparel & accessories. The areas of IP most relevant to the above sectors will be discussed, as well as smaller IP issues specifically affecting makers of brand apparel & accessories.

Trade Marks Protect Your Brand

Trade marks provide protection against use of identical or similar marks on similar goods. China uses the ‘first-to-file’ system, meaning that companies may lose legal protection in China and take the risk of infringing others’ trademark if the same or similar mark has already been registered in China by someone else. It currently takes two-three years from application to registration of a trademark in China, providing no opposition is filed against the application upon publication.

Because China uses the ‘first-to-file’ system, it is common for unscrupulous parties to register other’s trade marks first. It can be a difficult and expensive process to cancel, oppose or buy back a trademark that has already been registered. It is not uncommon that import agents or distributors register trade marks on behalf of the principal. It is recommended that the trademark is either registered in the name of the principal or transferred back to the principal to avoid later disputes. In addition to registering the trademark in the original language, it is advisable to register a distinctive Chinese language trademark, even if this is not the primary mark used. Without a well-promoted Chinese mark, the market may create a Chinese nickname for a product, and this nickname may be registered by unscrupulous parties to exploit the reputation of your brand. Continue reading “IPR Protection in China’s Textile Industry” »

IP Protection in South-East Asia for the Textile Industry

towels-1511875_1920In today’s blog post, we are taking a closer look at IP protection in South-East Asia’s  textile industry, which is developing fast and offering many opportunities to European SMEs. You will learn how to protect your newest fabrics, your textile machinery or your brand in South-East Asia. 

Textile industry in South-East Asia offers many promising business opportunities to European SMEs as garments are one of ASEAN’s largest export articles and textile industry is still growing in the majority of South-East Asian countries with fastest growth rates registered in Vietnam and Cambodia. Furthermore, Thailand that has traditionally been strong in textile manufacturing has now set its sights on becoming a fashion hub for the ASEAN region as its textile and garment exports to other ASEAN countries have been steadily growing for the past few years. Similarly, Indonesian government is committed to preparing several incentives in a bid to boost the textile sector and making Indonesia one of the top five global textile exporters.[1]

South-East Asia has been the production hub for many European companies that would then export apparel and accessories back to the European Market. At the same time South-East Asia also offers market opportunities for European products as European design is becoming more well-known in the region.  Singapore for example has become Asia’s second fashion capital, offering a variety of high-end international brands.[2] As Asian consumers are becoming more affluent and cities like Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur are becoming more established in the fashion world, there will be more opportunities to European SMEs in the region.

At the same time, South-East Asia’s textile industry is both an opportunity and threat to European businesses. It can be a major market for those supplying production technologies and on one of the key supply bases for textiles and finished goods. However, foreign technologies and brands that are not adequately protected often fall victim to counterfeiting and other IP violations that are still commonplace throughout the whole South-East Asia. Continue reading “IP Protection in South-East Asia for the Textile Industry” »

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” »