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UK-China Intellectual Property Forum Shenzhen - June 2018

By Jake Mendrik and Max Stirling

27/06/2018

On 27th June, the 2018 UK-China Intellectual Property Forum provided a stage for stakeholders to address the key Intellectual Property (IP) challenges and opportunities for companies wishing to do business in the British and Chinese markets. Hosted by CBBC in collaboration with the British Chamber of Commerce and Guangdong Innovative Talents Promotion Association (GITPA), representatives from several of the UK and Guangdong¡¯s top IP firms gave detailed and informative insight for all who attended on what is still one of the most pressing concerns for foreign companies with ambitions to do business in China.

 

This concern is not limited to western enterprises however, with a growing focus on IP protection for outward-looking Chinese companies who play an active role in China¡¯s development on the global stage, a point made by Sally Zhang, CBBC¡¯s head of South China. This has resulted in an increase in investment into the due diligence process when operating in Western markets.

 

Here are the principal takeaways from what proved to be a stimulating day of analysis and debate:

 

The European IP System ¨C Still a challenge for many Chinese companies

 

For Chinese companies wishing to enter the European market, understanding the nuances that exist in European IP legislation can present a daunting proposition, a point first made by Ellie Li, Chief Representative in China for Haseltine Lake LLP. One way to help alleviate such concerns, as suggested by John Brunner of Carpmaels & Ransford LLP, is to ensure British IP firms are as available and approachable as possible, either by employing Mandarin-speaking lawyers or by making frequent visits to prospective Chinese clients.

 

Further analysis of the European patent system by Mr Brunner¡¯s associate, David Wilson, highlighted the key hurdles for prospective Chinese patent applicants in Europe. Principally the fragmented nature of the system is confusing with each of the 38 states that operate under the European Patent Convention (EPC) free to interpret IP law differently in their respective national courts. Costs and the timescale of litigation also present real issues. However, despite these complexities, the year-on-year amount of patent filings in EPC countries by Chinese firms is increasing.

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The Chinese IP System ¨C A work in progress

 

Drawing on their rich knowledge of both the Western and Chinese IP landscape, speakers Daniela Shaw and Alice Li, from Gowling WLG (UK) LLP, provided an in-depth look at how IP and patent law is developing in China. Most notably, win rates in patent cases have risen in recent years highlighting the improvement in the quality of patents themselves and the increased focus on enforcement through legal representation.

Lin Zhou, of Ciprun IP Operations Co Ltd, went further, explaining that China¡¯s place at the forefront of the new industrial age is evident by the rapid increase in patent applications. As of 2018, the country¡¯s number of annual patent applications ranks second globally, behind only the US, with a year-on-year increase of over 10 percent according to data from the World Intellectual Property Organisation. The sheer weight of new IP has forced the existing legislative process to keep up, remodel itself, and make sure the system becomes more streamlined and efficient for both domestic and foreign companies. Though work needs to be done to reach the level of protection afforded in the European and US systems, continued improvements within the patent litigation process should see an in increase in successful infringement cases, a definite plus for UK companies seeking access to the Chinese market. If this trend continues the future for Chinese IP litigation looks bright.

 

Xiaofei Li, the IP Manager at Mindray Medical International Ltd, provided insight from the viewpoint of one of Shenzhen¡¯s many major tech companies. His analysis focused on the key concern for foreign companies: the protection of innovative technology and sensitive IP in China. In recognition of the continued improvement needed in China¡¯s IP system, Li identified a focus on strong organisation and an effective IP management system as necessary for overseas companies doing business in China. By adopting this approach, Mindray has been able to successfully commercialise its IP and harness the potential of the Chinese market once analysis of IP protection and of legal proceedings has been extensively researched.

 

The underlying theme agreed upon by Mingang Chen, the Section Chief of IP Promotion in Shenzhen¡¯s Market and Quality Supervision Commission, Barry Kirkwood, the Executive Manager at British Chamber of Commerce in Guangdong, and Joanna Zhang, Secretary General of GITPA, is a promotion of cooperation and continued dialogue between stakeholders and industry players in both the European and Chinese markets. By ensuring better understanding of each region¡¯s respective IP landscapes, and working together to help alleviate key concerns, the flow of UK and Chinese business will continue to increase. There is work to be done, but the signs are good for the future of cross-border IP protection.

 

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@ UK-China Intellectual Property Forum Shenzhen - June 2018

 


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