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.

Continue reading “Structural changes in IPR registration and Enforcement bodies in China” »

Chinese Court Issues First GUI Case Decision

17471462035_4b3ff87149_kToday’s blog post has been kindly shared with us by Ferrante Intellectual Property. The article discusses a recent Beijing IP Court case on the Graphical User Interface infringement. In it’s first ruling of the kind, the the IP Court has decided that the GUI cannot be protected separately from the type of the device it is applied to under the design patent protection. 

The Beijing IP Court issued a decision on the very first Graphical User Interface (GUI) infringement case in China. The lawsuit was lodged by Qihu 360 Inc. (Qihu) against Beijing Jiangmin Technology Co., Ltd (Jiangmin). Qihu claimed that the externalizing interface of Jiangmin’s software was identical to Qihu’s GUI design of “Computer with GUI” and that Jiangmin’s behaviour constituted patent infringement. In its decision, the Beijing IP Court dismisses Qihu’s claim and found that in determining the protection scope of a GUI design patent, the GUI design and that of the product using GUI shall be both considered. Hence, it held that the protection scope of Qihu’s GUI design patent shall be limited to the product of computer. Since Jiangmin’s software does not belong to the same or similar category of computer, Jiangmin’s behavior of providing the software does not constitute patent infringement. In this specific case, the users downloaded the software on their computers, which according to the Court does not constitute patent infringement. Even considering Jiangmin’s software as an “intermedium”, Jiangmin’s behavior of providing the software does not constitute indirect patent infringement. The decision gave rise to many debates, with experts arguing that existing patent law and regulations fail to properly protect GUI design. Continue reading “Chinese Court Issues First GUI Case Decision” »

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” »