UK despatches ‘first intellectual property trade mission’ to China

Out-Law News | 01 Sep 2014 | 4:55 pm | 2 min. read

The UK government’s first trade delegation to China focused on issues involving intellectual property (IP) has begun a five-day visit to the country aimed at boosting confidence for British firms doing business in China.

Intellectual property minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe, who is leading this week’s trade mission, said: “I am determined we do all we can to make life as easy as possible for our businesses by improving our bilateral relationships with China on intellectual property matters, essentially the ownership of ideas and the reduction of counterfeits and design theft.”

Neville-Rolfe said: “There is huge potential for British firms to do business with China, generating new jobs and economic growth in both countries. While many UK companies already have strong trading relationships with China, we must build on these links and work hard together to continue to reduce any barriers to doing business.”

According to the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO), part of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, both countries plan joint work focused on topics related to global patent reform and making IP systems “more efficient for users”.

The UK aims to double exports to £1 trillion by 2020. Within this, the IPO said the target is to double UK exports to China from their 2010 level to $30 billion. UK exports to China were worth £15.7bn in 2013.

The UK’s mission will start by taking part in the second UK-China IP Symposium in Beijing, hosted in partnership with the Chinese State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). The IPO said the symposium will provide an opportunity for more than 100 British and Chinese businesses “to network and build relationships with government officials, focussing on the challenges they face in managing and protecting their IP in China”.

The chief executive officer of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) Stephen Phillips said: “Protection of IP is important to every business that has invested time and effort in its development. CBBC’s member companies are keen to do more business with China, but they want to be sure that their world-class innovation and knowledge is properly protected. We are encouraged by the clear commitment of China to ensure better IP enforcement, something that is really important as China continues to move up the value curve.”

According to the IPO, other issues to be addressed during the visit will include “working more closely with the Chinese authorities to tackle IP crime and reduce the amount of counterfeit goods exported from China”. The IPO said 70% of counterfeit goods seized at EU borders currently originate from China.

The IPO said the UK also wants to help licensing societies collect fees on behalf of British creative industries in China “who often struggle due to infringement and low valuation of copyright”.

Since December 2011, the IPO has had an attaché based in the British Embassy in Beijing. The position “is central to enhancing trade and investment relations and supporting IP and innovation-led businesses abroad”, the IPO said.

In July 2014, a new pilot ‘Patent Prosecution Highway’ programme was launched between the IPO and the SIPO, following the signing of a joint statement of intent between the two agencies during a visit to China in December 2013 by UK prime minister David Cameron.

According to the IPO, the UK accounted for the fifth largest number (8,627) of foreign trade mark applications in China in 2013. China was the third largest foreign applicant nationality in the UK with 1,113 applications in 2013. Also in 2013, a total of 845,064 copyright works were voluntarily registered in China, an increase of 23% from 2012.

The IPO said China received 2.4 million patent applications in 2013, an increase of 26% from 2012. In 2013, courts across China accepted 9,331 and concluded 9,212 first instance criminal IP cases, down 29% and 28% respectively from 2012, the IPO said.