Top 5 Misconceptions Start-ups Have about Patents in Singapore

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For Start-ups expanding in South-East Asia, IP protection should be considered one of its core priorities. Today’s blog post has been kindly drafted for us by Ms. Chan Wai Yeng who is a patent specialist at Taylor Vinters Via LLC. Ms. Chan Wai Yeng will explore five common misconceptions regarding patenting – something which will be useful for any European Start-up looking to expand their business in South-East Asia, and Singapore in particular.

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Intellectual property protection is an important consideration for most start-ups. The exclusive monopoly that comes with patents can help start-ups carve a niche in a crowded marketplace. Patents have always been important to some industries like Big Pharma where they develop expensive drugs in lengthy R&D processes. They have become increasingly important and relevant to new business models and technologies in the technology sector.

While the concept of a patent is fairly simple to understand, there are several misconceptions about patents which I’d love to clarify. It is important to clarify these misconceptions before embarking on the intensive patenting process.

Myth 1: A patent applicant has rights to enforce his pending patent

It is a common mistake amongst first time patentees to think that once their patent application has been filed, they will immediately gain the rights to sue third parties for infringement of their patent. Rights to bring about a suit for infringement are in fact only available to the patent owner after his patent has been granted. The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore indicates that patents filed in Singapore can take between 2 to 4 years to grant. Thus patentees should be aware that during the period when the patent is still pending, they are not able to take action against third parties that commercially exploits their invention.

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Copyright Protection in Myanmar

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Country’s Background for European SMEs

Myanmar is an emerging market showing steady growth rates since the country set itself on a course of political liberalisation. Despite being one of the poorest ASEAN nations, the country’s economy grew at around 8.5% in the 2014/2015 fiscal year, with economic reforms bolstering consumer and investor confidence. The service sector was the main driver of growth thanks to expansions in telecommunications and transportation. Myanmar is an emerging economy with a GDP of $64.3 billion, which is attracting more and more foreign investments. Its 53.4 million strong population is mainly occupied in the agricultural sector. However, the garment and mining industries, as well as wood products also take up a significant part of the economy.

EU imports for Myanmar are dominated by the textile industry, accounting for nearly 80% in 2011, making it the 29th largest trading partner for the EU for clothing. Agricultural products also play a significant role in Myanmar’s exports to the EU. EU exports to Myanmar on the other hand are dominated by machinery and transport equipment. EU exports to Myanmar have risen steadily since its increasing political liberalisation.

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Trade Marks in China: Q&A for the International Comparative Legal Guide to Trade Marks 2017

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For any EU SME operating in China, Trade Marks will be an important IP asset to have. So in order to meet any questions you might have, our China IPR SME Helpdesk expert Mr. Charles Feng from East & Concord Partners based in Beijing has kindly drafted for us a very useful and informative blog post on Trade Mark Protection in China. In this comprehensive Trade Mark guide, our Q&A with Mr. Feng will give you all the answers you need on Trade Mark protection in China. 

1          Relevant Authorities and Legislation

1.1       What is the relevant trade mark authority in your jurisdiction?

The Trademark Office (“TMO”), which is affiliated with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, is the authorised government agency in charge of trademark administration including examinations of trademark applications, oppositions as well as the cancellation of trademark registrations for three years of non-use.  The Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (“TRAB”) oversees the examination of various applications for appeals against the TMO’s decisions, as well as trademark invalidation matters.

In addition, local Administrations for Industry and Commerce (“AICs”) or Market Supervision Administrations (“MSAs”) are in charge of the administrative enforcement of trademark rights.

People’s Courts have jurisdiction over trials for trademark-related administrative or civil litigation.

1.2       What is the relevant trade mark legislation in your jurisdiction?

The most fundamental legislations include the Trademark Law of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC Trademark Law”), the Implementing Regulations of the PRC Trademark Law as well as multiple Judicial Interpretations related to trademark law which are issued by the Supreme People’s Court.

In addition, the Anti-Unfair Competition Law of PRC provides protection to unregistered marks such as distinctive names, packaging or decoration of famous goods.  The criminal code provides protection against counterfeiting activities where the illegal turnover exceeds a certain amount.

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Explaining the New Regulations of Foreign Contractor Withholding Tax on Trade Marks in Vietnam

shutterstock_81193486-520x345In today’s blog post we asked our IP expert Mr. Son Doan to clarify the provisions of the Official Letter on taxing the transfer of the right to use trade marks, issued by the Ministry of  Finance of Vietnam. 

On 7 November 2016 the Ministry of Finance of Vietnam issued the Official Letter 15888/BCT-CST to provide detailed guidance on foreign contractor withholding tax (FCWT) applicable to income of foreign contractors from transfer of right to use a trade mark. According to the Official Letter:

  • Pursuant to the Law on Intellectual Property, when a Vietnamese party uses a trade mark and makes payments to a foreign party for the transfer of use right, this should be considered as transfer of the right to use a trade marks in accordance with the Law on Intellectual Property, distinguishable from the assignment intellectual property rights.
  • As a result the income of foreign contractors from transfer of the rights to use a trade mark should be subject to FCWT with applicable tax rates as follows:
    • CIT rate on taxable revenue is 10%
    • VAT rate is 10% (if foreign contractor declare VAT under the credit method) or 5% (if foreign contractors declare VAT under the deemed method).

This means that if a foreign owner fully transfers the ownership of a trade mark to a Vietnamese party, there will be no taxes applied. However, if the foreign company merely grants the right to use the brand to the local Vietnamese businesses, then Vietnam tax authorities will collect the CIT and also the VAT.  Continue reading “Explaining the New Regulations of Foreign Contractor Withholding Tax on Trade Marks in Vietnam” »

IP Protection in China for the Cosmetics Industry

cosmeticsToday’s blog post focuses on the  cosmetics industry – one of the fast-growing industries in China – discussing the IP issues relating to patent protection, trade mark protection and design protection. As counterfeiting in cosmetics is still a big issue in China and failing to protect your IP can sometimes mean the end of the business endeavor to China, it is  wise to have a robust IP protection strategy in place. Today’s blog post introduces European SMEs the tools they can use to build a good IP protection strategy in the cosmetics industry in China. 

In recent years, due to the expansion of China’s middle class, increased interest in personal care has led to the rapid development of the cosmetics industry. In addition, the adjustment of the tariff system in China and the rise of e-commerce platforms like Taobao or Jindong also contributed to the sales of cosmetics products. The industry shows an annual growth of 12% and broke the RMB 200 billion mark of sales volume in 2015[1]. The most successful products are skincare products, including moisturisers and masks, products safe for children, anti-aging products, spot-removal products, and sunscreen and whitening products.

In this market, image and trustworthiness are paramount. Chinese cosmetics consumers are more resilient to advertising and increasing influenced by peer recommendations, meaning that consistent, favorable mentions through social media such as WeChat groups are the pillars of sales growth. At the same time, the production and sale of fake and inferior products continues to be prevalent on the Chinese market – despite recent campaigns and targeted efforts of the Chinese government. Particularly, due to their popularity and high quality, overseas cosmetics brands are the usual victims of counterfeiting[2]. The infringement acts are mainly trade mark and outer packaging imitation, and customers consequently confuse the authentic and counterfeit products, leading to loss of sales, reputation and oftentimes product liability issues. Thus, for cosmetics enterprises, wishing to enter to China, it is still very important to have a robust IP strategy in place. Continue reading “IP Protection in China for the Cosmetics Industry” »