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, 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 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” »

IP Considerations in Singapore for Healthcare and Medical Technologies Sector

insurance-1991276_1920In Today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at the IP protection in Singapore’s healthcare and medical technologies sector that has been offering promising business opportunities for the European SMEs for a few years now. You will learn about what types of IP are connected to the healthcare industry and how you can best protect these types of IP in Singapore.

Underpinned by both raising disposable income and progressively aging population, Singapore offers various promising business opportunities to European SMEs engaged in healthcare and medical technologies sector, whose topnotch technology is increasingly sought after. Furthermore, Singapore’s healthcare expenditure is expected to grow about 10% by 2020 and the government is committed to offering better healthcare to its citizens as it has dedicated a budget of 2.64 billion EUR to developing the health and biomedical sciences sector in Singapore over the next 5 years.[1]

European SMEs who are engaged in developing medical diagnostics tools, especially in the areas of immunochemistry, point-of-care devices, and molecular diagnostics, or developing medical solutions catered towards functional ageing and fighting obesity-related and chronic diseases, can expect to find plenty of business opportunities in Singapore, as these areas are currently developing fastest in the country. Similarly, SMEs that are engaged in digital dentistry, can expect to find promising business opportunities, as there is rising interest in digital dentistry in Singapore.[2] As Singapore aspires to become Asia’s digital healthcare hub, European SMEs can also use Singapore as a gateway to other South-East Asian countries, whose demand for healthcare technologies is similar to Singapore.

Intellectual Property Rights are very relevant in the healthcare and medical sector as companies operating in the field heavily rely on technology, software, and brand reputation. Not only a way to help protect innovations and new products from competitors, IP assets can also be an important source of cash-flow through licensing deals or selling IP, as well as a significant pull-factor when attracting investors. European SMEs should, however, not forget to pay attention to protecting their IP and implement a strategy tailored to their needs. 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 Singapore’s market, says Valentina Salmoiraghi, IP Business Advisor. Continue reading “IP Considerations in Singapore for Healthcare and Medical Technologies Sector” »

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” »