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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IP TIPS and WATCH-OUTS in Indonesia

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indonesiaIn this blog post, we will provide you with all the basics you need to successfully protect your Intellectual Property Rights in Indonesia. Known for its diverse and rapidly growing market, Indonesia provides opportunities for many European SMEs interested to expand their business into South-East Asia. This blog post will give a concise overview of IP tips and watch-outs for Indonesia – enjoy.

General IP TIPS and WATCH-OUTS in Indonesia

  • Indonesia recognises ‘well–known’ trade marks (recognition of this is made on a case-by-case basis), but only to the extent that they may be used to prevent a third party from registering a similar trade mark, at least in theory. Often, ‘bad-faith’ registrations (intentionally registering someone else’s pre-existing IP) get registered by third parties and the rightful owner has to go through the expensive process of filing proceedings in the commercial court to cancel these bad-faith registrations.
  • When the need arises to enforce rights through the authorities, it is best that IP rights owners be aware of recent media coverage of corruption cases in Indonesia. The fact that corruption cases have been surfaced demonstrates the government’s efforts at cleaning up corruption cases; however it is still worth discussing a potential corruption risk with your attorney when enforcing your rights via the authorities.
  • Because IP rights enforcement in Indonesia can still be problematic, it is essential to register your rights there in order to stand a chance of defending them. Intellectual Property Rights are territorial in nature, which means that registrations in one country’s jurisdiction are not automatically enforceable in others, and therefore registrations in multiple countries may be necessary, particularly for businesses looking to internationalise. Indonesia operates under a ‘first-to file’ system, meaning that the first person to file an IP right in the Indonesian jurisdiction will own that right once the application is granted.

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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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How to Protect Trade Secrets in China: a Case Study

fgjMore and more European companies are considering bringing their cutting-edge technology to China, as the market offers many promising opportunities for European high tech companies. However, despite the fact that Chinese IP regime has improved a lot, IP infringements are still commonplace in China and, thus, European SMEs, wishing to successfully  do business in China, need to consider all the possibilities of how to protect their IP in China. Today’s blog post explores the often neglected, but a very useful  way of protecting IP in China – the trade secrets.

Nearly all businesses in all industries and sectors possess trade secrets. Trade secrets are a valuable and highly useful form of intellectual property that are nevertheless often undervalued and overlooked by their owners. This is not least the case in the service sector where the relative value of trade secrets as intangible assets can be extremely high. For example, a logistics firm may not hold any patents or few trade marks and substantial copyrights, but the value of its operations could heavily derive from information contained within client lists and standard procedures.

A considerable advantage for trade secrets is that unlike some other forms of IP rights, such as patents and copyrights that have a finite term, trade secrets can theoretically enjoy an infinite term of protection so long as the trade secret remains just that – a secret. The main difference between protecting something by patent or as a trade secret is that, while technical information is publicly disclosed in patents, it is kept away from the public eye in trade secrets. A trade secret can last forever as long as the confidentiality measures that protect it continue to work. An invention patent typically expires after 20 years.

On the other hand, legal protection of trade secrets is easily lost. Once the information becomes public information, it no longer enjoys any legal protection. As a result, prevention is the golden rule when it comes to protecting your trade secrets, because once your secret is out, there is usually very little that you can do about it. China, like most other countries, provides a legal framework for the protection for trade secrets, and the law provides for remedies in the event that your trade secrets are unlawfully disclosed. Continue reading “How to Protect Trade Secrets in China: a Case Study” »