Thursday, December 12, 2013, 08:15
HK emerges as hub for IPR trading
By Wong Joon San in Hong Kong

The mainland and Hong Kong offers necessary intellectual property rights (IPR) protection to investors to assure them of a free and fair environment. Wong Joon San reports as BIP Asia Forum examines the issues.

HK emerges as hub for IPR trading
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (third from left) and BIP Asia Forum participants pose for photograph. (Provided to China Daily)

Hong Kong is an ideal place for local and foreign companies to tap into the huge intellectual property rights (IPR) trading potential on the mainland, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Dec 5.

In his remarks at the opening of the 3rd Business of Intellectual Property (BIP) Asia Forum, themed “IP: Driving the New Economy”, Leung said IP, which had become a very valuable asset for individuals and companies, was the currency for innovation and growth.

“The mainland companies have a greater knowledge, appreciation and appetite for IP rights obtained from indigenous research and development efforts as well as acquisitions from abroad. This represents huge potential for IP trading on the mainland,” Leung said.

BIP Asia Forum was organized by the Hong Kong government, Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong Design Centre.

As Hong Kong had a lot of experience in cross-boundary IP transactions, it served as a regional marketplace and service center for activities such as copyright trading, licensing and franchising, design services and technology transfer, he said.

“We work hard to maintain and enhance our sound legal and financial infrastructure under the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’. We have highly open markets and a deep pool of bilingual and experienced IP talent,” Leung stressed.

These are some of the reasons that Hong Kong was ranked number one in Asia and seventh in the world in this year’s Global Innovation Index announced in July.

According to the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department (IPD), companies from Hong Kong and the mainland companies in the city applied for 13,204 trademarks in 2012, up 12.83 percent from the 11,703 applications in 2011. They also applied for 9,111 trademark registrations in 2012, an increase of 8.07 percent versus the 8,430 registrations in 2011.

IPD said in 2012, there were 171 standard patent applications filed by companies from Hong Kong and the mainland companies in the city, and 90 standard patents granted to them last year.

However, there were no available statistics to show the value of the IP trading in Hong Kong and the mainland, nor the identities of the buyers and sellers.

Fred Lam, executive director of the HKTDC, who also spoke at the opening session, said that: “Hong Kong has long been one of the world’s key trading economies and a global financial centre. Now, with the mainland taking off as an important IP supplier and user, Hong Kong is poised to become the Asian region’s IP trading hub.”

“Over the last two decades, we have seen a growing demand for IP rights in Asia and especially on the mainland. In 2011, the mainland overtook the US in terms of the number of patent applications received.

“The country has since become the global leader in the number of applications received regarding patents and trademarks as well as industrial design,” Leung said.

In March this year, Leung said the government had set up a Working Group on IP Trading, led by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, to strategize the promotion of Hong Kong as an IP trading hub.

Tian Lipu, commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office, in his opening remarks at the forum, said IP receives a great deal of global recognition and it was important for the mainland to focus on this sector as it transformed into an innovative economy.

He said the central government had issued further reforms that would apply to IP trading and its commercialization.

Tian said his bureau would deepen the cooperation with Hong Kong and relevant government departments as the HKSAR transformed into an IP trading center.

Wang Binying, deputy director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization, who also made opening remarks at the forum, said the mainland would play an important role in innovations and IP standards worldwide.

Asia IP Exchange re-launched

The Asia Intellectual Property (IP) Exchange, which was established at last year’s BIP Forum as an IP information site, was re-launched as a business site on Dec 5.

The exchange is a free online IP trading platform showcasing over 20,000 IP listings from 15 strategic partners, including those in the US, Denmark, Beijing and Shanghai, and local research and development centers and universities, to facilitate international IP trading and connection to global IP players.

Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) Executive Director Fred Lam said: “The Asia IP Exchange is designed to put IP owners and prospective buyers together. Business should follow.”

The exchange was re-launched at the BIP Asia Forum, which was attended by more than 1,600 intellectual property buyers and sellers, R&D professionals, finance and legal intermediaries and design and technology practitioners from 25 countries.