Basics of Manufacturing Non-disclosure Agreements in China

Page 1. ContractsIn today’s blog post we are going to take a closer look at different contracts and agreements that help European companies to protect their precious IP in China. In particular, you will learn more about non-disclosure agreements and non-use, non-disclosure and non-circumvention agreements. 

Introduction: contracts in China

Many SMEs view Chinese manufacturers as cheap, technically-skilled, attractive options for manufacturing their products and as such pursue partnerships with them. While Chinese manufacturers can be the key to the products needed to give your company worldwide reach, China—like all countries—can be home to unscrupulous merchants with a taste for IP theft. As such, tailoring contracts to suit your intellectual property rights (IPR) is an important way to ensure that your company’s specific intellectual property assets are adequately protected when dealing with Chinese manufacturers. In particular, this article will address use of so-called NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) and NNNs (non-use, non-disclosure, and non-circumvention agreements) to protect an SME’s trade secrets—“any non-public technical or business information with commercial value that is guarded by confidentiality measures.”

What are NDAs and NNNs?

At its core, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) between an SME and a Chinese manufacturer is an agreement which states that once the SME reveals its trade secrets to the Chinese manufacturer, the manufacturer will refrain from disclosing those secrets to anyone else. Once a secret loses its secrecy—once it is revealed to the public—it no longer has any kind of legal protection and, most likely, will lose its economic value. That is why NDAs are go-to contracts for any SME which seeks to use a Chinese manufacturer. Otherwise, the manufacturer could reveal the SME’s trade secrets, making those secrets impossible to protect and capitalise on. Continue reading “Basics of Manufacturing Non-disclosure Agreements in China” »

Cleantech in Thailand: Some IP Considerations for the Rapidly Developing Market

clean-techIn today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at the IP protection in Cleantech industry in Thailand, which has in recent years attracted the attention of European SMEs as the market is offering many promising opportunities.

As Thailand is one of the leaders in South-East Asia region in terms of renewable energy solutions, especially connected to solar power, but also to biomass and hydropower, its market attracts cleantech companies from over the world. Given Thai government’s ambitious plan of achieving a 25% energy consumption from renewable energy sources by 2021[1], and the fact Thailand’s energy consumption is predicted to jump by 75% over next two decades[2], Thai cleantech market is expected to offer promising opportunities for European SMEs whose top-notch technology is especially sought after.

Because of the abundance of renewable energy sources, including sun, hydropower, and biomass, the country could become a true renewable energy powerhouse. Cleantech companies focused on solar energy, biosphere alternative energy systems, energy conservation and efficiency can find promising business opportunities in Thailand because these areas are also receiving the lion’s share of Thai government’s investments on renewable energy.

European cleantech companies should, however, pay attention to protecting their IP rights when planning their business strategy for the Thai market, because IP infringements are still relatively common in the country. Furthermore, cleantech industry tends to have high level of collaboration and licensing which make IP ownership the centerpiece of the business strategy.  Well-managed IP is often a key factor for business success and neglecting to register IP rights in Thailand could easily end SMEs’ business endeavor in the country. Thus, a robust and integrated IPR strategy is needed, when entering Thailand’s market. Continue reading “Cleantech in Thailand: Some IP Considerations for the Rapidly Developing Market” »

IP Protection Strategies for App Developers in China

8585049088_9d1dbcdf1f_kDue to the size of the market, increasing disposable income and smartphone addiction China is an attractive market for European app developers who are wishing to expand to new markets. European app developers should, however, pay attention to protecting their IP rights in the country, because IP infringements are still commonplace in China.In today’s blog post we’re taking a closer look at how European app developers could best protect their business against IP violations in China. 

China has increased the per person spending on games and other apps 10 times since 2014. This rapid growth, stimulated by the release of the iPhone 6 and 7 and heavy investment in Apple’s retail presence in the country, has pushed China to the top spot for App downloads worldwide[1].

Asia is leading a mobile revolution, replacing older, less transportable technologies with a ‘mobile-first’ tech culture. Smartphone penetration in China is far deeper than anywhere in the West, many new users skipping desktop computing entirely in their adoption of smartphones and tablets[2]. In China alone it is estimated that there are more than 700 million active smartphones and there is still potential for further growth as lower cost alternatives increasingly cater for the lower end of the market.

These statistics, coupled with recent developments in Chinese mobile user payment structures makes China a very attractive market for existing and potential app developers, with content creators flocking to take advantage of the newly minted market. Continue reading “IP Protection Strategies for App Developers in China” »

Proposed Changes to Singapore Patent Regime and Their Implications to European SMEs

patent-without backgroundToday’s blog post is taking a closer look at the proposed changes to  Singapore Patent Regime and explains their implications to European SMEs wishing to patent their inventions in Singapore.

Singapore is currently in the process of amending its patent regime as the government has submitted the proposed amendments for public consultation due to end on 15 August 2017.  Major amendments concern the examination guidelines on isolated products from nature; third party observations; patent re-examination option; the examination guidelines on the new patents grace period and amendments to Patents Rules concerning patentable subject matter and supplementary examination. The aim of these proposed amendments is improving Singapore’s patent regime and further increasing the confidence of stakeholders and investors in Singapore’s patent regime[1].

Patent examination guidelines on isolated products from nature

In order to have a more balanced patent regime, the Singapore Government is proposing to clarify the distinction between ‘inventions’ and ‘discoveries’ as applied to the issue of isolated products found in nature. According to the new proposal isolated or purified materials or microorganisms that can be found in nature would represent a discovery and would not be an invention – thus these materials or microorganisms would not be eligible for patent. At the same time, if a new use of the isolated or purified material or microorganism is found, then the new use can be claimed and it can also be patented.  Furthermore, the new proposal states that “in the case of an isolated material or microorganism which has been modified such that the modified material or microorganism can be clearly distinguished from the isolated or purified naturally occurring material or microorganisms, then not only can the modified material or microorganism be claimed but also any new use of the modified material or microorganism”.[2] In this case both the new material and new use can be patented. Continue reading “Proposed Changes to Singapore Patent Regime and Their Implications to European SMEs” »

Managing your Intellectual Property as a Business Asset in China

shutterstock_237576058Intellectual property rights are important, as they protect the company against counterfeiting and other types of infringements. At the same time, intellectual property rights can also be financial assets that provide security for financing. Thus IP rights could also be managed as financial assets. In today’s blog post we are taking a look at how to manage your IP rights as financial assets in China.

Introduction  

For most businesses, intangible assets represent more than 50% of the value of the enterprise. The most significant group of intangible assets are those protected by intellectual property such as inventions, designs and brands. Since they form such a large part of the overall value, their management as financial assets is important to the success of the business.

Businesses that actively manage their IP as a financial asset outperform their peers by up to 30%. They do so by maximising the effectiveness of investment in the business, driving performance in areas that produce the best return and managing operational risk. They may also use their IP assets as security to obtain various forms of funding. Moreover, there are opportunities to gain strategic advantage in relation to the sale or purchase of a business.

Understanding the financial value to the business of specific IP assets is of particular importance when moving into a new market – product or geographic – because there will be new risks as well as opportunities. China presents some special challenges, and practical steps to protect the value of IP assets are often as important as legal ones. This article discusses how IP assets matter from a financial perspective and assesses how to manage them to the greatest business advantage. Continue reading “Managing your Intellectual Property as a Business Asset in China” »