This month, China Business Law Journal focuses on intellectual property (IP) in line with its commitment to the International Trademark Association and its 137th annual meeting, which is being held in San Diego in May. China has always been a focus for IP protection, often for the wrong reasons, but the tide is turning and this issue we’d like to focus on observations of change within China, and also for those Chinese entrepreneurs heading abroad.
Our cover feature, TM China, deals with the brand managers, corporate counsel in China whose work it is to protect their trademarks and IP from often malicious invasion. Things are changing. IP courts, as well as upgrades to the Trademark Law and to key regulations are aiming to crack down on the infringers. For TM China, we asked law firms and IP agencies who they felt were the outstanding in-house trademark managers working in China. To this list we added our own choices and asked them all to share their valuable opinions on brand protection and management.
The results make for fascinating reading. For most corporate counsel, counterfeiting and pirate registration remain the greatest threats, despite the new Trademark Law coming into effect. Many counsel say more improvements in legislation are urgently needed.
The counsel surveyed also speak candidly about how internal conflicts and miscommunication between departments of a company can create risks for trademarks, and suggest strategies for overcoming these risks. In addition to commonplace problems, key words such as internet and internationalisation have emerged for managers.
With China’s overseas investment gathering steam, unprecedented inroads into IP protection are occurring, and Chinese enterprises are feeling the need to brush up on IP laws abroad. Global reach discovers prejudices that Chinese companies are all counterfeiters remain, and these often put legitimate enterprises in a less favourable position when they are defendants in infringement actions. Conducting a search for freedom-to-operate issues before entering foreign markets is a necessity.
Patent trolls in other jurisdictions also pose a threat to Chinese companies wanting to enter new markets, along with a host of other regulatory developments. Global reach explores the world’s hotspots and the IP challenges they hold for Chinese investors.
Last but by no means least, an exclusive for China Business Law Journal. The Hong Kong Secretary for Justice, Rimsky Yuen SC, has written an interesting article on the significance of the recent Host Country Agreement (HCA) between China and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the Conduct of Dispute Settlement Proceedings in Hong Kong, and the related Memorandum of Administrative Arrangements (MAA), both officially signed in Beijing.
Yuen explains how the HCA and the MAA will facilitate the PCA’s administration of arbitration in Hong Kong, and enable the special administrative region to play a bigger role as an international as well as a regional centre for law and arbitration.