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Opinion - Making Great Strides

Issued: April 29 2015

As we approach the International Trademark Association’s Annual Meeting, our attention has turned – as it often does – to the efforts INTA members, governments and others are making in our region to improve the protection of intellectual property assets in their countries and regions.

Following signiicant IP reforms from Australia in 2012 and New Zealand in 2013, China has made great strides in improving its intellectual property laws, and South Korea is poised to do the same, should expected amendments to its trademark law be approved.

China’s new trademark law came into effect on May 1, 2014, which has already had a signiicant impact on the country’s trademark regime, including in several noticeable areas, including an expansion of the trademark protection range. “For instance, sound marks and multiple class trademark applications are available and can be adopted for protection,” says Ha Si, a senior partner at Long An Law Firm in Beijing.

Lawyers say the general awareness of trademarks in China has been increasing in recent years, but corporations – especially small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) – still lack proper protection measures. Ha says that in spite of the rather small scale and limited capital investment of most SMEs, SMEs do have signiicant intangible assets, but that they tend to invest more in IP in certain internal sectors which are highly reliant upon production and sales, rather than seeking full-service IP protection.

Finding a good compromise between IP protection and tight budgets has long been a challenge for smaller enterprises. The challenge comes from not only limited budgets – about which little can be done, in most cases – but also from their lack of knowledge about intellectual property.

Providing knowledge not only about the mechanics of IP protection but also about the importance of IP protection is where INTA’s Annual Meeting truly excels, bringing together representatives from more than 6,200 member organizations from 190 different countries. Last year’s meeting in Hong Kong provided SMEs from Asia and the Paciic with an incredible opportunity to attend informative sessions, network with their counterparts from around the world and gather information to help persuade their bosses – who, at the SME level, are often the owners of the company – of the importance of protecting their intellectual property assets.

This year’s meeting isn’t in Asia, but that’s no excuse for IP owners and lawyers from our part of the world to miss it. The opportunities for SMEs to make the same strides that their larger counterparts have already made are nearly endless. We hope that we’ll see you in San Diego. 


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