2013 Mainland, Hong Kong and Macao Intellectual Property Symposium

The 2013 Mainland, Hong Kong and Macao Intellectual Property Symposium was held in Macao on the 10 July 2013.

As in past years, the morning session was devoted to the “The Latest Development of Intellectual Property in the Mainland, Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR”. Official representatives from the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department and Macao Intellectual Property Department expressed their intention to continue and strengthen the cooperation between the three offices, delivered and analyzed the latest statistics, identified the new priorities, recalled the ongoing reforms and said a few words about the current intellectual property awareness campaigns.

Many of the speakers – among others, Mr JIN Zejian, Deputy Director General at the Planning and Development Department of the SIPO – made direct or indirect reference to the Promotion Plan for the Implementation of the National Intellectual Property Strategy in 2012. The objectives are the following ones:

– to improve IP appraisal and assessment system;

– to enhance IP examination and management of various IPR

– to guide inventors to shift the focus on IP quantity to IP quality; and

– to boost IP value.

The afternoon has led to debates on innovation and creation in emerging industries, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and cultural industries.

What can we learn from this day? It is impossible to mention here all that has been said on this day. I will just simply say a few words on the main trends that have been highlighted by various speakers, and mention the latest news on the legislative front.

  • Awareness of IP

Chinese authorities regularly promote IP through awareness campaigns. The earliest ones were devoted to the fight against counterfeiting. At the 2013 Symposium, all the speakers have generously insisted on the need to continue the fight against counterfeiting to develop a conductive environment to empower the creation and the innovation. Thus, Mr. KANG Xin has stressed the need to fight against online piracy and counterfeiting of copyright works.

It is equally important that economic actors are aware of the value of IP at the microeconomic level. Large Chinese companies already know that IP is the main asset for competitiveness and development in the Chinese market and abroad. It is now necessary that SMEs — and the public in general — understand the economic sense of the IP.

For the awareness campaigns to produce efficient results, both approaches must be adopted: stop counterfeiting, and now create and protect your own creations! This is the direction that the Chinese authorities seem to take, and it is the right one.

  • Innovation and Patents

Ongoing Reforms. On the legislative front, Mr JIN Zejian mentioned the ongoing reforms:

– the Revision of the Patent Law (draft for consultation) (中华人民共和国专利法修改草案征求意见稿) (Chinese version), on which public comments were open until 10 September 2012);

– the Regulation on Employees’ Inventions (draft for consultation) (职务发明条例草案(征求意见稿)) (Chinese version / unofficial translation) on which public comments were open until the 3rd December 2012; and

– finally, it is worth mentioning that an insurance project for patents is being studied in 25 cities.

Statistics. As to innovation and patents, statistics presented by Mr. JIN Zejian (Deputy Director of the Planning and Development at the SIPO) confirm the trends of recent years, some of which have been released in the WIPO 2013 PCT Yearly Review and the The Global Innovation Index 2013, or on the SIPO website. For example, between 2001 and 2012, the R&D expenses have increased 21% annually, while the domestic patent applications experienced an annual increase of 27.1%.

Distribution of the innovative strength. Not surprisingly, the power of innovation is still largely concentrated in the east of Mainland China. The most innovative administrative regions are:

  1. Jiangsu
  2. Guangdong
  3. Beijing
  4. Shandong
  5. Shanghai
  6. Zhejiang

However, Mr. JIN added that the situation continues to progress steadily in areas of central and eastern China.

Emerging Industries: Traditional Chinese Medicine. In recent years, many questions arise about the future of Chinese traditional knowledge. This is particularly the case of the TCM, which traditionally faces some difficulties in terms of modernization and internationalization. A part of the afternoon session was devoted to these issues. It is interesting to report that, according to Mr. Abraham CHAN — Chairman of PuraPharm Group — and Prof. Yitao WANG — Director of the Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences at the University of Macau —, TCM manage to modernize through a larger volume of R&D, that now leads to registered patents in various jurisdictions.

  • Copyright

Protection of copyright. — As mentioned earlier, fighting against counterfeiting in general, and against online counterfeiting in particular, remains a primary concern. At the symposium, Mr. KANG strongly emphasized on software protection: the authorities wish to encourage the use of genuine softwares. The protection of copyright is vital for some Chinese companies. As such, it may be recalled that 70 powerful Chinese companies have recently created the “Software Alliance Capital”. This welcomed initiative may suggest that future progress in the fight against counterfeiting will be initiated by the Chinese lobby.

As to awareness campaigns focused on copyright, Mr KANG Xin recalled that the authorities announced new campaigns against online counterfeiting in different kind of media. Through this type of campaigns, the authorities also wish to promote the registration of copyright.

Chinese Creativity: “Where is the Chinese Steve Jobs?” — This is a recurring issue in China. And not surprisingly, it was again raised at the symposium. Many speakers suggested that, despite its long history, its deep-rooted traditions and culture, China lacked talents, especially in the cultural industry. Some express regrets, for example, that the story in which two Chinese national treasures (kung-fu and panda) were written by American screen-writers and produced by a Hollywood company!

  • Trademarks

Ongoing reform. — At the end of 2012, the National People’s Congress (NPC) issued a draft revision of the PRC’s Trademark Law. Comments on the amendment were due by January 31, 2013. Among other things, the NPC revision focuses on the following points:

– the requirement that applications for trademarks registrations must be made in good faith;

– the definition of use of a trade mark;

– the concept of secondary infringement liability;

– the introduction of punitive damages.

  • Geographical Indications

Awareness. — Geographical indications are becoming a priority for Chinese authorities. The GIs did not give rise to lengthy developments at the symposium. Nevertheless, Mrs WEI Ran strongly emphasized the need to promote geographical indications and the following logo:

Geogrphical Indications Label Logo China Trademark Office under the Stte dministration for Industry and Commerce

Geographical Indications Label Logo China Trademark Office under the State administration for Industry and Commerce

A number of products have recently obtained this precious label. For example, in March 2013, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne has successfully registered “Champagne” and its Chinese transliteration “香槟”.