There has been plenty of coverage of the UK IPO/FCO-led China-UK Intellectual Property Week, with even the BBC's Today radio show picking it up [this Kat missed it, and his search engine of choice isn't being very helpful]. Put together by Britain’s multi-tasking China IP attaché Tom Duke, the visit took in eight cities in five days, spreading the word for and about IP in the UK. It has been equally well received in China, with meetings on the margins at a high level and TV coverage on their national broadcaster, CCTV. But what did our reporters on the ground think? Participants and Katfriends Gwilym Roberts (CIPA, Kilburn & Strode) and Catherine Wolfe (ITMA, Boult Wade Tennant) share their thoughts:
"What a week in China, with around the clock efforts from government, judiciary and the private sector. Baroness Neville-Rolfe, just a month into her ministry, set the pace, opening the day 1 Symposium in Beijing, signing a number of accords and fielding questions across the spectrum (Copyright Prosecution Highway, anyone?). Sir Colin Birss was also on typically good form, spreading the word on enforcement best practice both publicly and in a series of meetings across China with local judges. And the pace didn’t slow in the evenings either, downtime being occupied with a range of social events aimed at building that essential element of success in China, relationships or “Guanxi”, including a memorable cultural event involving, aptly, plate spinners (and we don’t mean Tom).
Next to claim-drafting, this is a doddle ...
The delegation included both CIPA and ITMA representatives, presenting a united front with the IPO. CIPA and ITMA have had the opportunity to promote the UK and European systems abroad, and learn as they go; there has been much talk, for example, of GDP, national statistics and state-run innovation initiatives – and that’s just from the IPO. As ever, the system in China is under review and reform, with discussion of punitive damages and enhanced evidence collection, which will please UK plc, and in response to a query from well-known attorney Lena Shen of Sanyou, one particularly poetic comment was made by SIPO during the Symposium at a very practical level: “Slow Justice is No Justice”.
Machine for enhancing evidence collection
A hot topic is the controversy over suggested revisions to employee compensation law for patents. The proposed system would be heavily employee-biased and is causing concern to companies with R&D interests in China; the employee would be permitted to access sensitive financial information to establish if the contractual rewards for an invention were enough and, if they were not, would be able to sue for the statutory compensation which is “even better than Germany”. Nothing is settled yet but, if you are adversely affected by this proposed system and haven’t lobbied yet, you might consider it prudent to start doing so now.
On the trade mark front, the IPO and ITMA had an all-day joint workshop at the SAIC, with very constructive and open dialogue. We were able to discuss the unexpected and unwelcome new requirement for a company certificate when filing TM applications. The ITMA team also discussed “bad faith” / “unexpected entrepreneurial” applications, diligently pressed the case for the excellence of the IPO's opposition model and continued the long-stage campaign to introduce a counter-statement system in oppositions, especially in cases where copyright or personal names are involved.
The trade mission then starburst from its Beijing base, with visits to Nanjing and Suzhou (patents and TMs), Shanghai (commerce and keynote at the MIP forum by the Minister), Guangzhou (judge’s visit), Hangzhou (e-commerce) and Chongqing (copyright and Hotpot Dinner) and we’ll report on those separately in a later post. A lot has been done in a short time and we hope that the effort is already transforming into achievement; at the very least the delegation will come home having generated more than enough interest to keep those plates spinning for a good while to come.
Hot Pot table-top topic