Last week this weblog hosted the first of two instalments of the adventures of the members of the British IPO/FCO-led Expeditionary Force that headed for the Far East to do their bit for China-UK Intellectual Property Week (a.k.a. #UKChinaIP). In the post below, participants and Katfriends Gwilym Roberts (CIPA, Kilburn & Strode) and Catherine Wolfe (ITMA, Boult Wade Tennant) share their further experiences:
"The sheer scale of the Chinese IP operation emerged as part of the team found themselves at the Suzhou Patent Examination Cooperation (PESC) Centre in East China. The team, including Beijing Embassy’s Shi Hui, and the IPO’s Andy Bartlett, Andrew Davidson and Nathan Abraham arrived desperate to share knowledge and a Welsh love spoon brought along in case of memento exchange. Outside Suzhou, the “Venice of China” SIPO has set up a subsidiary Examining section in a purpose-built 60,000 sq. m facility with its own restaurant and pagoda, handling 30,000 grants and 70,000 exam reports last year and more still this year (although it’s never quite clear where design patents and utility models figure in these statistics). UKIPO’s Deputy Director Andy Bartlett gave a discussion of quality control measures, which was of huge interest and relevance to an operation with no fewer than 1,300 Examiners, and about to double in size. And we heard about the training at PESC -– from this reporter’s patent attorney point of view, by far the most important issue. But despite a false alarm, the love spoon did not change hands.
There's no truth in the story
of the Chinese IP infringers'
favourite karaoke track
being "I Did It Your Way"
Reassuringly there was a comfortable convergence on best practices, the biggest difference inevitably being scale; someone else can do the maths on proportional patent turnover at IPO v SIPO. PESC seems to use a mix of teaching and experience based training with lectures from local and SIPO based experts, and has a quality control mechanism which is itself quality-controlled by SIPO in a sort of recursive quality super spiral. Given the target of two million patent filings per year by next year in China, this scale and growth is essential; SIPO recognises that this needs to go hand in hand with maintenance of quality and, if the outcome matches their ambition, then patent offices around the world will want to know how they did it. This was a good opportunity to keep to policy -– to underline our enforcement concerns in China, build mutual respect for our systems –- two jobs done. The team then stayed in Suzhou new city for a pleasant evening chatting to academics from a local branch of Liverpool University, including a comparison of modern theory on stimulation of creativity v drafting broad claims, but still no love spoon exchange. Another staggering place (enormous hotel, café, pizza restaurant and karaoke lounge – but no people). They really do plan ahead there.
Then on to Nanjing by superfast train. Watching one of those come through the station without slowing down had even the most travel-hardy delegate glassy-eyed. Following more information- (and to our delight, love spoon-) sharing at the Jiangsu Provincial IPO we headed (in a minibus with a card table, and cards) on to the Technical University for a round table followed by a panel session on trends in European IP; another opportunity for Gwilym Roberts, Catherine Wolfe and Rob Furneaux to promote British expertise, then back to another fabulous hotel, playing snap all the way. Mention is also due to the China-British Business Council at this point. The Council set up many of these provincial meetings and also took the team to a very pleasant Bavarian micro-keller to recuperate in the evening.
Opportunity lost? The IPO could have marketed
the joys of slow-track Welsh railway technology?
The final leg was Hong Kong, with excellent discussions of a range of IP issues, a well-attended panel session headed by HKIPD Director Ada Leung and the opportunity to express once again CIPA’s support for and enthusiasm to assist with the current patent law and system reboot there. The ambition is huge, but we met an impressive team who look likely to deliver both on the law and the training of Examiners and attorneys to accompany it. Then home.
The week was demanding and aimed high but, in terms of coverage and delivery, hit its targets. There is no faulting the intentions nor endeavour of the IPO team both here and in Tom Duke’s domain and, while there may be many more visits to come, and much depletion of Wales’ armoury of love spoons, this correspondent at least is confident that our policy goals will be met".