Managing IP in trade with China

AUSTRADE has urged businesses to view protecting intellectual property as a central element of a Chinese business strategy, as trade with China continues to grow. Latest figures show merch-andise exports to China more than doubled during the past five years. For the financial year 2005-06 to April, merchandise exports were valued at $14.4 billion compared with $6.3 billion for the same period in 2000-01. In Australia from July 17 to 26 July 26 to lead seminars on IP protection along with IP Australia, Austrade’s Beijing-based senior trade commissioner, Kym Hewett, said it was essential Australian businesses properly managed IP as a core element of their China export strategy. “Protections for IP routinely found and used in Australia may not apply at all, or in the same way, in China. Local advice in China and knowledge is essential to Australian businesses, otherwise any product that attracts a premium because of its brand appeal, or technology is at risk,” Mr Hewett said. “It’s imperative to register your IP in China to obtain protection and Austrade can advise on professional experts to assist with this process. “There’s been substantial progress over the last 15 years in China to protect IP with well-established procedures for the registration of patents, trademarks, designs, trade secrets and domain names. “China subscribes to all relevant international treaties and conven-tions. Managing IP in China is crucial and must be approached in a systematic and effective way. Businesses need to ensure they have a good understanding of the realities of the Chinese business and legal environment,” he said. Export opportunities in China go across the board and include resources and energy, agri-business, food and beverage, health and wellbeing, fashion, consumer goods, education and business services, ICT, infrastructure and automotive. Mr Hewett said there were some strategies businesses could adopt to utilise IP infrastructure to protect them. “Businesses planning to enter the China market need to identify up front their main IP risks,” he said. “It’s important to find if you have IP that’s able to be registered in China and the costs and timeframes involved. “Also if your product or service is at risk outside of China (e.g. if it’s discovered by travellers, business visitors etc). It’s also important to find out just how loss of control of IP might compromise your core business objectives and to develop strategies to ensure IP doesn’t leak out into the market. “Some of the strategies to overcome IP problems include maintaining secrecy around key elements of a production process, the provision of ‘black box’ componentry, organising for partial manufacture in China and part elsewhere and surfing the wave of innovation.” Export figures for the financial year to April 2006 show Western Australia leads the way, with merchandise exports to China valued at about $7.9 billion. Queensland follows with $2.2 billion, then New South Wales with $1.6 billion, Victoria $1.5 billion, the Northern Territory on $460 million, South Australia $353 million, Tasmania $216 million and the ACT on just more than $400,000.

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